Dispute over voting rights in the US: Biden wants to change rules in the Senate

As of: January 12th, 2022 7:50 am

The US President intends to use federal legislation to undermine changes to the electoral law in the states. Because the vote on it in the Senate is blocked, Biden wants to change the rules of the Senate.

By Torsten Teichmann, ARD-Studio Washington

Georgia is one of the states that, in the view of the US Democrats, have restricted their voting rights. President Joe Biden chose Atlanta to announce that he is now ready to do whatever he can to defend universal suffrage. “The danger to our democracy is so great that we have to find a way to pass, debate and vote on laws protecting the right to vote,” he said. “If that gets blocked, we have no choice but to change the rules of the Senate, including the filibuster.”

The background to the so-called filibuster is that it often takes 60 votes to end a debate in the Senate and to bring a law to a vote. The US Democrats are missing ten votes for this. And block the Republicans. Biden wants to change that: “I am saying it clearly today to protect democracy, I support reform of the Senate. Whatever it takes to prevent a minority of senators from blocking the laws protecting the right to vote.”

Biden under pressure

So far, the US President has refused to change the voting rules. But Biden is under pressure. On the one hand, the elected president, Donald Trump, continues to cast doubt on the US electoral system with his lie that his election was stolen. On the other hand, criticism of Biden is growing within the Democratic Party.

Political activists demonstratively stayed away from the speech in Atlanta. The chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, James Woodall, told CNN that enough had been said: “Even if the president has promised support for these bills, nothing has happened so far. We cannot go to our communities go back and say the president is for it, but there is no law. “

A reform at the federal level is intended to overturn laws in the states. In Georgia, for example, state law would prohibit the provision of water and snacks to voters in front of voting stations. These and similar regulations in 19 states were aimed primarily at minorities, says Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice: “There is empirical evidence that black and Hispanic Americans in particular have to queue longer at polling stations. They are small things that add up. And while some laws are tougher than others, they all blatantly try to achieve the same thing. “

Republicans want to stick to old rules in the Senate

The Republicans reject the charge of systematically suppressing votes. Republican Senator John Thune from the state of South Dakota thinks the debate about the right to vote is just a pretext: “It’s about nothing more than damaging the US Senate. To create an atmosphere in which you can share your agenda with the Got Democratic votes through. And that’s completely the opposite of what the Founding Fathers had in mind for the Senate. ”

Republicans are against reforming Senate rules.

Build: AP

The Senate is a cultural battle issue in the United States. Of the Senators of the Democratic Party, Joe Manchin from West Virginia has also announced that he intends to adhere to the chamber’s voting rules for the time being. There is a risk of a complete standstill, according to Wodall: “If we do not get this legislative proposal through, the attacks on democracy will continue, attacks like the storming of the Capitol. And overall we will experience a decline in this country.”

A vote on the electoral reform is planned for January 17th, on the commemoration day for the civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. A symbolic day. But symbols alone will no longer help President Biden.

Dispute over voting rights and filibusters: US President Biden is losing support from within his own ranks

Torsten Teichmann, ARD Washington, January 12th, 2022 7:34 am


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