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US President Joe Biden departure

Source: The Washington Post / Getty

Georgia’s new sweeping elections law signed by Governor Brian Kemp this week has widely drawn a lot of criticism. Among the changes for the Peach State is that it will be illegal to offer those waiting in line to vote food or water.

President Biden responded to the legislation, calling it an “atrocity,” and said the Justice Department is “taking a look” at the measure.

“It has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency. They passed the law saying you can’t provide water for people standing in line while they’re waiting to vote? You don’t need anything else to know that this is nothing but punitive, designed to keep people from voting. You can’t provide water for people about to vote? Give me a break,” Biden said.

Critics argue that the law disproportionately affects Black voters, who were critical to recent Democratic victories. Biden was the first Democrat to carry the state in 28 years and Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock were key for flipping the chamber with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote.

On Friday, the President urged Congress to pass voting rights legislation that would counter the Georgia law and other bills proposed by Republican state legislatures across the country that would make voting more difficult.

“This is Jim Crow in the 21st Century. It must end. We have a moral and constitutional obligation to act. I once again urge Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to make it easier for all eligible Americans to access the ballot box and prevent attacks on the sacred right to vote,” Biden continued.

Meanwhile, Kemp sent a rebuttal to Biden telling reporters on Friday, “There is nothing ‘Jim Crow’ about requiring a photo or state-issued ID to vote by absentee ballot. Every Georgia voter must already do so when voting in-person.”

The House of Representatives recently passed the “For the People Act”, a sweeping bill that addresses elections and campaign finance reform. However, it is unlikely to pass in the Senate with a 60-vote majority needed to advance. Even if Democrats eliminated the filibuster established by Republicans, which would lower the threshold to a simple majority, some on the left have also expressed concerns about the bill.

Even Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer acknowledged the support from 60 Senators was “unlikely.” But hinted towards a sight solution to Georgia’s law.  In a letter to his Democratic colleagues Thursday, Schumer said that the Senate Judiciary Committee would soon take up the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would restore provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court