Biden to push for stalled voting rights law in Philadelphia visit

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WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden Tuesday will issue an appeal for sweeping voting rights legislation that is stalled in Congress due largely to Republican opposition, after pressure from civil rights leaders.

Biden has declared that protecting voting rights was the central cause of his presidency, but the White House has taken sharp criticism from allies for not doing more while contending with political headwinds and stubborn Senate math that have greatly restricted its ability to act.

Several states have enacted voting restrictions, and others are debating them, as Republicans have seized on former President Donald Trump’s claims of massive voter fraud in the 2020 election as a pretense for curtailing ballot access. None of Trump’s claims have been proven.

Last month, Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic-backed national election reform bill that would have expanded opportunities to vote before Election Day, made certain campaign contributions more transparent and reformed the process for the drawing of congressional districts. Republicans said it violated states’ authority to set their own election laws.

While Biden’s voting rights legislation faces an uphill battle in Congress, his focus on it allows him to rally support among Democratic voters as Democrats work to hold on to control of Congress in the 2022 midterm congressional elections.

NewsNation will live stream Biden’s remarks from Philadelphia in the player above.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday that in his Philadelphia speech, Biden will call efforts to strip the right to vote from some Americans “authoritarian and anti-American” and “the worst challenge to our democracy since the Civil War.”

“He’ll lay out the moral case for why denying the right to vote is a form of suppression and a form of silencing,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday as she previewed the speech. “He will redouble his commitment to using every tool at his disposal to continue to fight to protect the fundamental right of Americans to vote against the onslaught of voter suppression laws.”

Biden’s speech Tuesday in Philadelphia, to be delivered at the National Constitution Center, is intended as the opening salvo of a public pressure campaign, White House aides said, even as legislative options to block voting restrictions face significant obstacles.

The city chosen for Biden’s speech at the National Constitution Center holds potent symbolism for many Americans. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were both signed at Independence Hall, just steps away from the center.

Biden’s long-awaited speech was to roll out just hours after a group of Democratic Texas lawmakers arrived in the nation’s capital after fleeing their state to try to kill a Republican bill making it harder to vote in Texas. The legislators said they were ready to remain in Washington for weeks, forcing a dramatic new showdown over voting rights in America.

Private planes carried a large group of Democrats from Austin to Washington, the lawmakers skipping town just days before the Texas House had been expected to give early approval to sweeping new voting restrictions in a special legislative session. They hoped to deprive the Legislature of a quorum — the minimum number of representatives who have to be present for the body to operate.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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