President Biden, VP Harris plan visit to Atlanta to talk up voting rights

President Joe Biden will travel to Atlanta on Tuesday to speak in favor of new voting legislation now before Congress. Vice President Kamala Harris will also speak that day in Atlanta. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

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President Joe Biden will travel to Atlanta on Tuesday to speak in favor of new voting legislation now before Congress. Vice President Kamala Harris will also speak that day in Atlanta. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are scheduled to travel to Atlanta next week, where they will deliver speeches encouraging Congress to pass federal voting laws.

Details about the Tuesday trip have not been released, but their remarks come at a time when U.S. Senate Democrats are grappling with how to overcome Republican opposition to passing election legislation. Democratic groups and voting rights activists in recent months have pleaded with the White House to get more involved.

The White House says Biden and Harris will “speak to the American people about the urgent need to pass legislation to protect the constitutional right to vote and the integrity of our elections from corrupt attempts to strip law-abiding citizens of fundamental freedoms and allow partisan state officials to undermine vote counting processes.”

Republicans say the proposed laws, which would create national standards for how voting and elections are conducted, infringe on states’ rights and represent a Democratic power grab. Democrats say federal legislation is needed because Republican-led states such as Georgia have passed laws that make it more difficult to vote and target voters more likely to support Democratic candidates.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said he will push for a vote no later than Jan. 17 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day — to relax the chamber’s filibuster rules so that the election proposals can pass with a majority of votes, which Democrats have.

But West Virginia U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, has said he is not in favor of changing Senate rules, and without his support, changes are nearly impossible.

Georgia U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock on Tuesday said that passage of federal voting laws is an urgent matter as states such as Georgia prepare for their annual legislative sessions, when harm can be done.

“Our democracy is in peril, and time is running out,” the Atlanta Democrat said. “This is a moral moment, and if we fail to protect the voices and the votes of the American people, then we have fallen way short of our responsibility as members of this body.”