A major Democratic nonprofit group is taking aim at President Biden in a new television ad, urging the president to take a more aggressive and concrete stand on overhauling the filibuster to pass federal voting legislation.
The ad, aired by a group called End Citizens United and Let America Vote Action Fund, is the first to publicly call out the president by name on the issue and is yet another sign of growing tension between the White House and left-leaning voting rights groups over the federal response to a wave of new laws governing elections from states with Republican-controlled legislatures this year.
The ad, which will begin airing on Friday, is centered on comments by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made at a 1963 news conference. In those remarks, the civil rights leader denounced the filibuster, a procedural tool that requires a supermajority of 60 votes to bring bills to a final vote. Its use has often stymied major legislation.
In the ad, as the screen flickers between long voting lines in the 1960s and more recent elections, King says: ”Senators who will use the filibuster to keep the majority of people from even voting — and certainly they would not want the majority of people to vote because they know they do not represent the majority of the American people.”
The group said it would spend $1.1 million on the ad, which will air on broadcast and cable television in Washington, D.C.; Michigan; Pennsylvania; and Wisconsin, including during Olympics broadcasts.
“This moment calls for presidential leadership, and we’re asking President Biden to fight like heck and use every tool available to him, including using his relationships in the Senate, to call for a reform to the filibuster to protect this sacred right,” said Tiffany Muller, the president of End Citizens United and Let America Vote Action Fund.
The president has called on Congress to pass a federal voting rights law, including in an impassioned speech last month in Philadelphia in which he called restrictive voting laws in states like Georgia, Florida and Iowa “the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War.”
But he has stopped short of publicly calling for a change to the filibuster, which would almost certainly be necessary to pass any kind of voting legislation in the Senate, where both parties hold 50 seats and Vice President Kamala Harris can break ties.
The ad closes with a clear directive: “President Biden, please, tell the Senate: Reform the filibuster. Everything is at stake.”