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key-words:-obama-urges-senate-to-‘do-the-right-thing’-as-he-backs-biden’s-push-to-change-filibuster-rules
key-words:-obama-urges-senate-to-‘do-the-right-thing’-as-he-backs-biden’s-push-to-change-filibuster-rules

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Key Words: Obama urges Senate to ‘do the right thing’ as he backs Biden’s push to change filibuster rules

Former U.S. President Barack Obama penned an op-ed in USA Today on Wednesday advocating for the protection of voting rights.

“When I spoke at John Lewis’ memorial service two years ago, I emphasized a truth John knew better than just about anyone,” Obama wrote, continuing:

‘Our democracy isn’t a given. It isn’t self-executing. We, as citizens, have to nurture and tend it. We have to work at it. And in that task, we have to vigilantly preserve and protect our most basic tool of self-government, which is the right to vote.’

To protect voting rights, Obama is urging the U.S. Senate, in which he represented Illinois from 2005 to 2009, to set aside its filibuster rule, which allows as few as 41 senators to prevent legislation from being voted on, and protect voting rights via passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.

Don’t miss: Here are Democrats’ options for changing the filibuster as Biden presses case for voting-rights bills

“That’s why I fully support President Joe Biden’s call to modify Senate rules as necessary to make sure pending voting rights legislation gets called for a vote. And every American who cares about the survival of our most cherished institutions should support the president’s call as well,” Obama continued.

The former president cited restrictive voting measures taken by Republican-led state legislatures in recent years that make it harder for people to vote and, according to critics, place particular new burdens on people likelier to support Democrats, including city dwellers, minorities and college students.

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From the archives (March 2021): Voting rights intensify as partisan battleground, with Democrats pushing H.R. 1 and Republicans altering election procedures at state level

After high turnout in the 2020 presidential election — in which then–President Donald Trump drew more votes than any presidential candidate in history other than his Democratic opponent, Biden, who attracted more than 7 million more votes — despite efforts by Trump and allies to discourage absentee and mail-in votes, amid a life-threatening pandemic, state legislative efforts picked up, Obama explained, to institute provisions that “treat certain polling locations differently, creating one set of rules for voters living in cities and another set for people living in more conservative, rural areas.”

What’s more, according to Obama, in the wake of the election, “one of our two major political parties — spurred on by the then-sitting president — denied the results of that election and spun conspiracy theories that drove a violent mob to attack our Capitol.”

The piece from Obama comes after Biden delivered an impassioned speech in Atlanta in which he publicly backed changing the filibuster in any way necessary to “protect our democracy.”

Two, and possibly more, Senate Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, remain opposed to dropping the 60-vote requirement, even as both are on record as favoring passage of the voting-rights bills.

Sinema spoke on the Senate floor on Thursday, ahead of a caucus lunch attended by Biden, of her belief that recently enacted state restrictions on voting rights and procedures undermine U.S. democracy but said she would not set aside the filibuster to allow their passage by mere majorities.

Biden, emerging from the caucus lunch at the Capitol, told reporters that, as with civil-rights legislation in the past, if these bills fall do short in the Senate this time around, a follow-up effort will be mounted.

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