Harris says to 'truly honor' the legacy of MLK, voting rights legislation must pass

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Vice President Kamala Harris.
Vice President Kamala Harris. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday urged the Senate to "do its job" and pass voting rights legislation.

Harris marked Martin Luther King Jr. Day by appearing virtually at an event hosted by the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. In a pointed message, Harris said that in order to "truly honor the legacy of the man we celebrate today, we must continue to fight for the freedom to vote, for freedom for all."

King pushed for "the freedom that unlocks all others — the freedom to vote," Harris continued, and that is now "under assault. In Georgia and across our nation, anti-voter laws are being passed that could make it more difficult for as many as 55 million Americans to vote — 55 million Americans. That is one out of six people in our country."

The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act would expand voting access and prevent voting restrictions from being enacted at the state level. In the last year, several Republican state legislatures have passed strict voting restrictions, and Harris said now is not the time to be "complacent or complicit. We must not give up, and we must not give in."

Senate Republicans are blocking voting rights legislation in the chamber, claiming it's a power grab, and last week President Biden said he supports changing filibuster rules in order to work around them. Two Democrats, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, quickly voiced their opposition.

Ahead of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day D.C. Peace Walk on Monday, King's eldest son, Martin Luther King III, said Democrats were "successful with infrastructure, which was a great thing. But we need you to use that same energy to ensure that all Americans have the unencumbered right to vote."

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