The family of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is calling on President Joe Biden to put the same ‘power and passion’ he put into the bipartisan infrastructure bill into passing voting rights legislation.
‘What we’ve seen with President Biden is what happens when he puts his full force and power behind an issue like infrastructure. What we want to see is that same power and passion being put behind voting rights,’ Arndrea Waters King, the wife of Martin Luther King III told Politico’s Playbook. ‘We hope that [Monday] is a working day for President Biden.’
She said the King family has long seen his holiday as a ‘day of action.’ She noted Coretta Scott King ‘when she was working so many years to make sure that there was a King holiday, her vision of it always was a day of action – a day on, not a day off.’
And Martin Luther King III, King’s son, called on politicians to stop the lofty talk and get to work.
‘No celebration without legislation,’ he said.
Biden lobbied hard for the $1.2 billion infrastructure package that became law in November. But that legislation had the support of both parties. Republicans object to voting rights legislation, arguing it should be a state issue and not a federal one.
The King family on Monday joined several hundred other activists in a walk across the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge to call for voting rights reform.
‘You were successful with infrastructure, which was a great thing,’ Martin Luther King III, said to a crowd of hundreds, ‘but we need you to use that same energy to ensure that all Americans have the unencumbered right to vote.’
They will also join Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders at a noon press conference in Washington D.C. to push for voting rights.
Martin Luther King III, Arndrea Waters King, and Yolanda Renee King and other civil rights leaders march in the DC Peace Walk for voting rights
The King family met privately with President Biden when he was in Atlanta last Tuesday
¿It was the right to vote that made simple people of all colors realize that that is the price of citizenship in this great nation¿ ¿ Ambassador Andrew Young sat down with VP Kamala Harris to talk about the importance of voting and MLK¿s faith in change in this NowThis exclusive pic.twitter.com/Ab8dNKiMEk
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 17, 2022
The King family met privately with Biden when the president was in Atlanta on Tuesday to push voting rights. In a fiery public speech, Biden called on the Senate to kill the filibuster and pass voting rights legislation. And he warned Republicans that history was watching their action.
Many local civil rights activists in Georgia skipped Biden’s remarks out of frustration for the lack of action on behalf of his administration.
The voting rights legislation didn’t advance last week because of two Democrats: Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, who were against killing the filibuster, arguing its a powerful legislative tool.
Biden met with both senators privately to discuss the matter. But the path forward for voting rights legislation remains unclear.
Biden released a video on Monday to talk about voting rights and King’s legacy.
‘Dr. King wasn’t just a dreamer of that promise, he was a doer. And on this federal holiday that honors him, it’s not just enough to praise him. We must commit to his unfinished work, to deliver jobs and justice, to protect the sacred right to vote, the right from which all other rights flow,’ he said.
He is in his hometown of Wilmington, Del., for the long weekend and has nothing on his public schedule until he departs for the White House on Monday evening.
But public schedules don’t reflect every meeting and phone call a president has. The White House has not responded to DailyMail.com’s inquiry on how Biden is spending the day.
On Sunday, Biden and Jill Biden volunteered at a Philadelphia-area food bank, where they packed carrots and apples in food boxes.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden pack food boxes while volunteering in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service, at Philabundance, a hunger relief organization, in Philadelphia on Sunday
Biden called on all elected officials across the country to make clear ‘where they stand’ on voting rights in his brief Monday morning address
Schumer had vowed to keep the Senate in session all weekend to try and meet his goal but ultimately conceded to factors that were leading to its defeat: Manchin and Sinema doubling down on their opposition to killing the filibuster, Democratic Senator Brian Schatz is out through Sunday after testing positive for COVID, and the massive snow storm that hit Washington D.C. area on Sunday.
But, the Majority Leader vowed, he will start debate on a massive voting rights package on Tuesday.
He has canceled next week’s schedule recess to bring senators back to Washington for the debate, beginning on Tuesday. And he renewed his promise to call a vote to kill the filibuster if Republican senators use that legislative tool to try and block the bill.
‘Due to the circumstances regarding COVID and another potentially hazard winter storm approaching the DC area this weekend, the Senate will adjourn tonight,’ Schumer said late Thursday night, his voice sounding hoarse.
‘We will return on Tuesday to take up the House-passed message containing voting rights legislation. Make no mistake, the United States Senate will for the first time this Congress debate voting rights legislation.’
‘If the Senate Republicans choose obstruction over protecting the sacred sacred right to vote – as we expect them to – the Senate will consider and vote on changing the Senate rules, as has been done many times before, to allow passage of voting rights legislation.’
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer surrendered on late Thursday night and sent senators back to their home states for the long weekend
It’s unclear how Schumer will get voting legislation over the finish line, which leaves President Biden’s dream of federal voting laws in tatters.
The president put all his powers of persuasion behind this effort. He went to Capitol Hill to personally lobby Manchin and Sinema. When the two stuck to their guns in favor of the filibuster – Biden needs all 50 Democratic senators to vote to kill it – he brought them to the White House Thursday night for another round of talks.
The meeting between the president and the two rogue senators was ‘candid and respectful,’ as Biden made a last-ditch effort to change the moderates’ minds on filibuster reform.
They met at the White House on Thursday evening for a little over an hour, with the meeting ending by 7 p.m.
‘The President hosted Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema at the White House tonight for a candid and respectful exchange of views about voting rights,’ a White House official later said.
The meeting came after Sinema and Manchin took turns earlier on Thursday dashing Biden’s hopes for the massive voting package, which would make Election Day a holiday, reform the redistricting process and tighten campaign finance laws.
Republicans oppose a federal law, saying elections should be handled on the state level.
President Joe Biden invited Sen. Joe Manchin (pictured) to the White House Thursday night in a last-ditch effort to change the West Virginia Democrat’s mind of editing the filibuster to let voting rights bills go through the Senate using just a simple majority
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema gave a speech on the Senate floor in support of the filibuster, which President Joe Biden wants the Senate to reform, prior to his visit Thursday afternoon to Capitol Hill
Before inviting the two rogue senators to the White House Thursday night, President Joe Biden paid them a visit on Capitol Hill Thursday afternoon
But Sinema dealt a death blow before that meeting when she went to the Senate floor to deliver a defiant defense of the legislative tool.
Manchin waited until after Capitol Hill meeting to issue a lengthy statement explaining his opposition to killing the filibuster.
‘I will not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,’ he said. ‘The filibuster plays an important role in protecting our democracy from the transitory passions of the majority and respecting the input of the minority in the Senate.’