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Biden in Georgia to defend sweeping electoral system reform

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For this, the president now officially supports a controversial parliamentary maneuver, which would allow the Senate to adopt a vast reform of electoral law despite fierce opposition from Republicans, a senior White House official said.

I will not give in. I will not tremble. I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against internal and external enemies, will launch the 79-year-old Democrat to these voters from minorities, who are supposed to lean to the Democratic side, according to an excerpt from his speech communicated in advance.

Joe Biden, after a vibrant plea for democracy last week on Capitol Hill, chose to speak in Georgia, a former slave state, emblematic of yesterday’s civil rights struggle and today’s political rifts.

The Democrat, who benefited before his election from the decisive support of figures of the African-American community, promised them to continue and complete the fights of Martin Luther King.

With Vice-President Kamala Harris, he is to lay a wreath in Atlanta on the grave of the icon of the fight against racial discrimination, assassinated in 1968, and his wife Coretta Scott King. Then Joe Biden will visit the Baptist Church where the icon of nonviolent mobilization officiated.

The Democratic president, who has had to bury his progressive social agenda for the time being, cannot afford another setback with the draft federal legislation on voting rights (voting rights).

It is a question of harmonizing the conditions under which Americans vote, from registration on electoral registers to the counting of votes, including postal voting or identity verification.

These are all criteria that several southern states controlled by the Republicans, including Georgia, have undertaken to modify with the effect of complicating, in practice, access to the ballot boxes for African Americans. While strengthening the grip of local authorities, generally conservative, over voting operations.

United States President Joe Biden walks towards the Oval Office in backlighting.

United States President Joe Biden walks towards the Oval Office after getting off the presidential plane on January 10, 2022.

Photo: Associated Press / Patrick Semansky

Two bills

In response, Joe Biden wants parliament to pass two laws, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (on the citizens’ vote) and the Freedom to vote Act (the freedom to vote).

And to do this it is in favor of a modification of the rules of the Senate, said a senior White House official, a formulation that hides a major political bet.

Joe Biden, a senator for more than thirty years, has hitherto been reluctant to break a custom that is as deeply rooted as it is difficult to understand outside the United States: the systematic obstruction, called the filibuster. She wants the Senate to gather a reinforced majority (60 votes) to put most of the texts to the vote.

But the president is now in favor of the Democrats (51 votes in the Senate taking into account that of the vice-president, against 50 for the Republicans) to pass in force and vote by a simple majority.

Abandoning this threshold of 60 votes will make the conservative opposition scream, but also jostle some Democrats, attached to this use supposed to promote consensus and moderation.

The midterm elections

But Joe Biden, whose popularity is anemic, believes that the time is no longer for moderation. In a few months, he risks losing his parliamentary majority in the mid-term elections, to the benefit of Republicans white-hot and over whom Donald Trump keeps an immense ascendancy.

To pass in force, the president must rally all Democratic senators without exception, including that of West Virginia, Joe Manchin. The latter, reluctant to follow the path traced by the staff of his party on the voting rights, has already single-handedly blocked huge social spending dear to Joe Biden.

Joe Manchin.

Joe Manchin, Democratic Senator

Photo: Associated Press / J. Scott Applewhite

The president is in any case expected at the turn by civil rights activists.

What we need is not a visit from the president and vice-president and parliamentarians. We need them to stay in Washington and act immediately, let the movement know on Twitter Black Voters Matter (black votes count).

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