Senator Raphael Warnock seizes the moment

Sen. Raphael Warnock’s surprise victory in the January runoffs happened before anyone really had the opportunity to celebrate, as the Capitol insurrection the day after quickly overshadowed any coverage of the Georgia runoffs and news that the Democrats had just recently taken back the Senate. Wednesday felt like another dark day in America, following the murder of eight people in Atlanta and the bigoted response to the shootings by right-wing pundits who denied that the former president’s racist rhetoric had anything to do with the tragedy. Yet, Warnock had a moment to shine on Wednesday when he made his maiden speech on the Senate floor – a strong, impassioned defense of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

Warnock seized the moment with a moving speech, as he paid tribute to the victims of the shooting in his home state and emphasized a need for America to come together over protecting the basic right to vote, despite the onslaught of Republican-sponsored voter suppression bills: “This issue, access to voting, and preempting politicians’ efforts to restrict voting is so fundamental to our democracy that it is too important to be held hostage by a Senate rule.” Warnock didn’t necessarily come out in favor of ending the filibuster, but he urged that the Senate work to find a way to pass the new voting rights act with or without it.

It made news this week when President Biden declared himself to be in favor of modifying the rules for using the filibuster – a repudiation of McConnell’s empty scorched earth threats against the Democrats. Now, with Warnock calling on his party to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, it seems even more likely that we’ll be seeing the rules change. This is an important piece of legislation when it comes to securing seats in the 2022 midterms and Warnock’s eloquent advocacy of it has made clear that he’s a strong political talent with a prominent future in the Democratic Party.

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