“We are facing the most important test of our democracy since the civil war”

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President Biden faces growing pressure from black civil rights leaders to take an aggressive stance on Congress by removing filibuster and passing federal legislation that would protect voters as the president prepares to speak out a major speech on voting rights on Tuesday.

Black leaders say Biden hasn’t acted quickly enough on voting rights as a growing number of states pass laws that restrict access to the vote. His speech in Philadelphia comes less than a week after the president met with leaders of several civil rights organizations in the White House.

The group demanded that Biden visit communities and talk about what he was doing to protect voting rights, said Melanie Campbell, chair of the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation, who attended the House meeting. White.

Leaders also urged the Biden administration to do more to push Congress to approve the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Black voters, Campbell said, put Biden in power in hopes he would rally against GOP efforts to suppress their votes.

“We believe this is a state of emergency,” Campbell said. “Because we don’t have strong voting rights law to push back some of these issues, then we envision a regression… and with African Americans, we’ve always had to have federal intervention.”

According to the White House, Biden’s speech on Tuesday will include “remarks on actions to protect the sacred and constitutional right to vote.”

Passing voting rights legislation has been an uphill battle for Democrats due to filibustering, meaning their slim Senate majority is not enough to overcome GOP opposition. Moderate Democrats have opposed major rule changes, making the future of the new election laws uncertain. Biden also stopped before supporting the elimination of the filibuster, but expressed his openness to making the practice more difficult to perform.

Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, said there is no path to voting rights that doesn’t require changing or ending the obstruction.

Biden, he said, has the power to influence lawmakers and it would be an “epic failure” if the president does not take a stand against filibuster in his speech.

“The president’s hands are never tied,” Albright said.

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