Biden calls for patience in deadlock over voting rights and police reform
WASHINGTON, Oct.21 (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden, standing under the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, on Thursday called for patience amid a political stalemate over securing Democratic proposals on human rights. vote and police reform through a divided Congress.
“I know the progress has not been fast enough,” Biden told hundreds of people gathered to mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of the huge granite monument dedicated to the murdered civil rights leader in 1968.
But Biden said he would keep the focus on “discrimination, racial discrimination and discriminatory laws.”
The Democratic president has set a strong agenda for black Americans, but since taking office in January, he has been unable to push through voting rights laws and police reform in the face of a strong republican opposition.
Biden spoke a day after Republicans in the U.S. Senate blocked a voting rights bill. It was the third time this year that Senate Democrats have attempted to push forward such a bill in response to new state voting restrictions fueled by false claims by former Republican President Donald Trump about a stolen presidential election in 2020.
Biden made a rare allusion to the claims on Thursday, saying lawmakers in Republican-led states that passed restrictive voting laws “were following my predecessor, the last president, into a deep black hole and abyss.”
He singled out Martin Luther King Jr.’s native Georgia, a state Trump falsely claimed to have lost due to electoral fraud.
âThis fight is no longer just about who can vote and how to make it easier for eligible people to vote. It’s about who counts the votes or whether they should count at all,â Biden said.
“Jim Crow in the 21st century is now a sinister combination of voter suppression and electoral subversion,” Biden said, referring to 19th and 20th century laws that violated the civil rights of black Americans.
Biden appeared at the memorial tribute with Vice President Kamala Harris – the first black and Asian American woman to win the second highest office in the United States.
The memorial stands near where King gave his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in 1963 during the modern civil rights struggle.
Reporting by Steve Holland and Doina Chiacu; edited by Jonathan Oatis
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