President Biden will travel to Philadelphia on Tuesday to deliver a speech on voting rights as Republicans in state legislatures across the country seek measures to restrict voting rights and Democrats’ efforts to overhaul the system stall in Congress are advised.
The trip to the birthplace of American democracy is set to provide a formidable backdrop for Mr. Biden as he seeks to revive a contested centerpiece of his domestic political agenda.
Mr. Biden is expected to outline all the ways his administration is working to improve access to voting rights. He is expected to highlight the Vice President’s efforts to support voter registration and education. He is likely to reiterate the idea that Republicans’ current efforts to restrict electoral access were inspired by a lie that voter fraud angered the 2020 elections.
“He will redouble his commitment to using every instrument at his disposal to continue to fight for the protection of the fundamental rights of Americans,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday.
But the draft described by Ms. Psaki lacks any plan to meet the growing demand from activists for the Democrats to unite to change the filibuster rules. Resetting the filibuster would allow two ambitious voting laws to pass the Senate by a simple majority.
In an interview on Monday, Rev. Al Sharpton said that he and several other civil rights activists urged Mr Biden to add such a request in his speech to the Democrats.
“We encouraged him to make a real appeal to all Democrats to stand in line,” Sharpton said, recalling a meeting he and several other civil rights activists had with Mr Biden late last week at the White House. “I think he heard us, but I don’t know.”
Mr Biden’s speech in Philadelphia comes as Democrats see a worrying increase in efforts to restrict voting, along with court rulings that would make those efforts more difficult to fight back. A Supreme Court ruling earlier this month weakened the only enforcement clause of the Voting Rights Act that remained after the court invalidated its key provision in 2013. Mr Biden said a year ago that strengthening the law would be one of his first priorities when he took office.
While waiting for federal action that may not come, Democrats in states that pass restrictive laws are resorting to dramatic measures to draw national attention to an attack on American democracy. On Monday, a crowd of Texas Democrats flew chartered planes into Washington to prevent Republicans in their state from reaching a quorum that would have encouraged the passage of restrictive electoral law.
On Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris praised Texans for leaving while visiting Detroit.
“I applaud you for standing up for the right of all Americans and all Texans to speak their voice freely through their voices,” said Ms. Harris during a listening round table on the subject. “I believe the struggle for the right to vote is as American as an apple pie. It is so fundamental to fight for the principles of our democracy. “