President Biden accused Republicans of defending voter suppression efforts that amounted to “a Jim Crow era in the 21st Century” in a scathing statement Tuesday after GOP senators blocked debate on a sweeping Democrat-backed election overhaul.
Senate lawmakers voted 50-50 on whether to open debate on the bill known as the “For the People Act,” leaving Democrats short of the 60 votes required to overcome a GOP filibuster. The vote marked a major setback for a piece of legislation that Biden and other prominent Democrats have championed for months in response to the passage of election security overhauls in GOP-led states.
“Today, Democrats in Congress unanimously came together to protect the sacred right to vote. In supporting the For the People Act and defending the rights of voters, they stood united for democracy,” Biden said. “They stood against the ongoing assault of voter suppression that represents a Jim Crow era in the 21st Century.
“Unfortunately, a Democratic stand to protect our democracy met a solid Republican wall of opposition. Senate Republicans opposed even a debate—even considering—legislation to protect the right to vote and our democracy. It was the suppression of a bill to end voter suppression—another attack on voting rights that is sadly not unprecedented,” he added.
Republican lawmakers say the legislation would allow the federal government to infringe on the rights of individual states to dictate their own election rules. The GOP has also argued the bill is meant to unduly benefit Democrats.
If enacted, the Biden-backed bill would make sweeping changes to U.S. elections. The legislation would put nonpartisan commissions in charge of gerrymandering rather than party-controlled state legislatures, expand early and absentee voting, and overhaul the campaign finance system, among other changes.
Biden and other Democrats have argued a federal election framework is necessary after Georgia and other states moved to tighten election laws following a contentious 2020 election cycle rife with disproven claims of fraud.
In March, Biden referred to Georgia’s election security bill as a case of “Jim Crow in the 21st Century.”
The president said in the statement Tuesday he would have “more to say” on the fight over the “For The People Act” next week.
“But let me be clear. This fight is far from over—far from over. I’ve been engaged in this work my whole career, and we are going to be ramping up our efforts to overcome again—for the people, for our very democracy,” he added.