Former President Barack Obama has called on the Senate to “do the right thing” and pass voting rights legislation supporting President Joe Biden‘s push to change the filibuster rules.
Obama penned the op-ed in USA Today on Wednesday on the heels of Biden’s speech on the importance of passing voting rights legislation. The former president discussed how voting wasn’t always a partisan issue.
“The Voting Rights Act was the result of Democratic and Republican efforts, and both President Reagan and President George W. Bush signed its renewal when they were in office. But even if Senate Republicans now refuse to stand up for our democracy, Democrats should be able to get the job done with a simple majority vote.”
Biden, who was previously against changing the filibuster rules, has reversed course, as Democrats do not have the votes to pass either bill without changing the filibuster rule
, which requires 60 votes to end debate on legislation.
Obama added that he “fully supports Biden’s call to modify Senate rules as necessary to make sure pending voting rights legislation gets called for a vote.
“The filibuster has no basis in the Constitution. We can’t allow it to be used to block efforts to protect our democracy.”
Obama also referenced the late civil rights activist and politician John Lewis
, writing that “now is the time for all of us to follow John Lewis’ example.”
The push for a comprehensive voting rights bill comes as 19 states have signed bills into law restricting the ability to vote. The bills restrict everything from how and when citizens can vote to taking food and water while waiting in line to vote.
“When I spoke at John Lewis’ memorial
service two years ago, I emphasized a truth John knew better than just about anyone. Our democracy isn’t a given. It isn’t self-executing,” Obama wrote. “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.
“Since then, things have only gotten worse,” Obama said.