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Biden calls for elected officials to fulfill King’s ‘unfinished work’


President Biden on Monday marked the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday by urging elected leaders to follow through on the civil rights leader’s “unfinished work” and protect the right to vote amid a stalled effort in Congress to pass voting rights legislation.

As statements flowed in from elected officials honoring King, Biden said in a pre-recorded video published Monday that “it’s not just enough to praise him, we must commit to his unfinished work to deliver jobs and justice, to protect the sacred right to vote, the right from which all other rights flow.”

“The attack on our democracy is real. From the Jan. 6 insurrection, to the onslaught of Republicans’ anti-voting laws in a number of states. It’s no longer just about who gets to vote, it’s about who gets to count the vote, and whether your vote counts at all,” Biden said.

The president invoked King’s legacy of holding a mirror up to the nation and forcing its leaders and citizens to decide which side they supported in key civil rights fights, arguing the country was facing a similar crossroads today.

“The question being asked again: Where do we stand? Whose side are we on? Will we stand against voter suppression, yes or no? Will we stand against election subversion, yes or no?” Biden said. “I know where I stand. It’s time for every elected official in America to make it clear where they stand. It’s time for every American to stand up, speak out, be heard. Where do you stand? Whose side are you?”

Biden’s 2 1/2 minute recorded address struck many of the same notes he did in a speech last week from Georgia, when he called for changes to Senate rules to ensure passage of voting rights bills.

But that effort has met a dead end in the Senate, where Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have been adamantly opposed to doing away with the filibuster, citing concerns about the long-term health of the chamber.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is expected to bring two voting rights bills to the floor in the coming days, forcing senators to go on record with where they stand despite their expected failure to gain the 60 votes needed to overcome the legislative filibuster.

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