Biden delivers speech defending voting rights, as runaway Texas Democrats arrive on Capitol Hill

The president spoke from Philadelphia in an effort to kickstart Democratic Party pressure to quash GOP-led legislatures' voter integrity bills.
President Biden
President Biden
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Biden on Tuesday delivered a speech billed as a "moral case" for voting rights and asked Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting bill, as his Democratic Party continues trying to thwart efforts by Republican-led state legislatures to pass election-integrity and voter-protection bills. 

The speech, which Biden delivered at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, was meant, according to White House aides, to be the opening act of a public pressure campaign to assist in Democratic lawmakers' efforts to block the Republican legislation.

During his speech, Biden called Republican-backed voter ID laws and other election-related bills "an attempt to suppress and subvert the right to vote in fair and free elections" and "an assault on democracy, an assault on liberty, an assault on who we are as Americans," according to USA Today.

The president also called on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and asking Congressional Republicans to "help prevent this concerted effort to undermine our election and the sacred right to vote."

On Monday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki briefed the public on the upcoming speech, saying Biden will "lay out the moral case for why denying the right to vote is a form of suppression and a form of silencing.

"He will redouble his commitment to using every tool at his disposal to continue to fight to protect the fundamental right of Americans to vote against the onslaught of voter suppression laws."

Psaki also referred to the current debate over voting rights legislation as "the worst challenge to our democracy since the Civil War."

Following the failure in the Senate of the Democrats' sweeping S1 "For the People Act," which would have transferred significant control over elections from states to the federal government, Democrats on the Hill are uniting behind the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

The bill, if passed, would restrengthen some parts of the original 1965 Voting Rights Act that were previously weakened by the Supreme Court. 

The president's speech occured as lawmakers in Texas dramatically battle over the passage of voting legislation.

Democratic lawmakers strategically ran away from their state's capital Monday night in an effort to stymie the Republican bill. Private planes shuttled the maskless lawmakers to Washington, D.C., where they say they are willing to remain for weeks. 

They made a similar move earlier this year, during the state's regular legislative session, to block the GOP effort.

Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott said he would continue calling special sessions of the Legislature throughout the year, if necessary and raised the possibility of arresting the fleeing Democrats when they return home. This is the second time that the lawmakers have refused to show up for a vote they were predicted to lose.