US Black lawmakers walk out as Mississippi Senate passes legislation described as a critical race theory bill
Analysis: Joe Biden puts it all on the line in voting rights battle
It took a year for Joe Biden to make an irrevocable bet that puts the credibility of his presidency on the line. If his bid now to change Senate rules to pass voting rights legislation fails, he'll lose more than just the bills he sees as vital to saving democracy. His drained political capital could spell the end of the entire domestic, legislative phase of his administration. © Patrick Semansky/AP President Joe Biden speaks in support of changing the Senate filibuster rules that have stalled voting rights legislation, at Atlanta University Center Consortium, on the grounds of Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University, Tuesday, Jan.
Black members of Mississippi's Senate walked out of the chamber in protest Friday before a vote on a bill described as a prohibition on critical race theory on the state legislative calendar.
would forbid public schools in the state from forcing students to agree "that any sex, race, ethnicity, religion or national origin is inherently superior or inferior."
The bill does not mention or define critical race theory. And it doesn't ban educators from teaching any specific subject matter.
is a concept that seeks to understand and address inequality and racism in the US. The term also has become politicized and has been attacked by its critics as a Marxist ideology that's a threat to the American way of life.
Obama backs Biden push on changing filibuster
Former President Obama is throwing his support behind President Biden's push to change the filibuster for voting rights legislation.Obama, in a Wednesday opinion piece for USA Today, said the filibuster is "the only thing standing in the way" of Congress passing federal voting rights reform."That's why I fully support President Joe Biden's call to modify Senate rules as necessary to make sure pending voting rights legislation gets called for a vote," Obama wrote."And every American who cares about the survival of our most cherished institutions should support the president's call as well," he added.
The bill passed in the Senate by 32-2 after the Black lawmakers walked out. Democratic state Sens. David Blount and Hob Bryan -- both White -- were the only two legislators to vote against the bill. It now heads to the state House.
The bill was debated for more than an hour, with several Black legislators asking Republican state Sen. Michael McLendon, who had introduced it, why the legislation was needed.
While McLendon conceded he had not heard from schools in Mississippi that students were being taught that they're inferior or superior, he said he had introduced the bill because his constituents had raised concerns about certain curricula they had heard were being taught across the country.
"I had so many constituents in my district that were concerned over the teachings that they have heard from around the country, they want to make sure that this was not a problem with Mississippi, so that's why this bill was brought forward," he said.
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"So it's a problem across the country; is it a problem in Mississippi?" asked state Senate Minority Leader Derrick Simmons.
"Well, we try to make laws for the future as well as today," McLendon replied.
Democratic state Sen. David Jordan, who said he had worked as a teacher for 33 years -- 20 of them in integrated schools, told McLendon the bill was not needed.
"This is not needed. It's a waste of time, your time and mine. I know there are people out there who got fear but as a good senator you can relay to them that there is no basis for it," Jordan said, who would later give a fiery speech against the bill before walking out.
"It is sad that we have wasted so much time on something that's not even necessary," Jordan said during his remarks.
"We cannot continue to stumble into the future backwards. That's what this bill does. That's why we don't need it," he added.
Democrats say change to filibuster just a matter of time .
Democratic lawmakers, aides and strategists believe it's just a matter of time before the Senate filibuster is substantially changed to limit the minority's ability to stop legislation, despite a defeat on the matter last week. Anger throughout the party at Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's (D-Ariz.) opposition to changing the filibuster, which helped derail a final vote on voting rights legislation, signals opposition to filibuster reform as an increasingly untenable position with the Democratic Party, they say. Sinema and fellow centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.