Correspondent in Washington
United States President Joe Biden has publicly supported a Senate rule change, which would allow Democrats to pass two laws alone to ensure that racial minorities vote without hindrance. Following Donald Trump’s false accusations of fraud in the 2020 presidential election, Republicans in key states such as Arizona or Georgia have been quick to modify electoral laws to restrict voting.
I’m sick of being quiet! I’m not going to give in on this, ”Biden said, urging his party to make the necessary changes to pass the laws he defends. It is up to the Senate itself to change those laws, and Democrats are divided on taking that step.
The president has made the announcement in a long-awaited speech in Georgia, where he has come to meet with representatives of racial minorities who They denounce that Republicans are making it difficult for them to vote.
“It is no longer about who can vote. It’s about making voting more difficult. It’s about who can count the vote and if your vote counts at all, ”Biden said fiercely about the restrictive new laws in GOP-ruled states. “I think that threat to our democracy It is so serious that we must find a way to pass new laws that guarantee the right to vote, “he added. And to Republicans, he said, “Let the majority prevail … We have no choice but to change the Senate rules, including eliminating filibustering.”
In US political jargon, filibustering is the tactic used to prevent laws from being passed. In the case of the Senate, a rule cannot be put to a vote if there is no agreement to do so with 60 votes. The other chamber of the Capitol, the House of Representatives, is not subject to these restrictions and operates with simple majorities.
Biden was a senator for 36 years and had always opposed changing Senate rules. These contemplate that to pass a law, generally 60 votes out of 100 are needed. That is, they normally have to negotiate Republicans and Democrats, something that facilitates consensus and bipartisanship. On rare occasions, especially in budgetary matters, a law can be passed in the Senate with a simple majority of 51 votes.
In the same vote that Trump lost in 2020, the Senate was left with two seats in the air, both from Georgia, which went to a runoff. This took place in January, and the Democrats won by the minimum. Each party was thus with 50 seats and who has the tie-breaking vote is the president of the Senate, position that falls on the vice president, Kamala Harris. Democrats, therefore, cannot afford any casualties.
Biden expressed his frustration on Tuesday at having “51 presidents,” that is, depending on each and every one of his party’s votes to pass laws.
Several are the projects of Biden that have run aground in the Senate before the republican resistance. Two of them are on voting access: the so-called John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would give the federal government the authority to intervene in certain state voting laws to prevent discrimination, and the Freedom to Vote Act, a broader bill that would establish national rules for voting by mail and early. What’s more the great project of the Biden presidency is blocked, a colossal spending package, which was initially more than three trillion dollars and then dropped to two, and contains ambitious social and environmental reforms.
Biden’s problem, however, is not just Republicans. Two centrist Democratic senators – Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kristen Sinema of Arizona – oppose these changes in the Senate and have resisted passing the White House spending package. Both, however, support laws to make it easier for minority groups to vote without hindrance.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism