President Biden on Tuesday appeared to take aim at Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) for their vehement refusal to eliminate or reform the filibuster amid Democrats’ push for voting rights reforms during a speech marking the 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre.
After touting that “democracy prevailed” last year despite restrictive voting laws, Biden urged voting right groups in the country to “redouble” their efforts to register and educate voters.
The President then referred to the obstacles that the filibuster presents in getting his legislative agenda passed in a 50-50 Senate — and appeared to take issue with Manchin and Sinema’s reluctance towards eliminating or reforming the filibuster.
“I hear all the folks on TV saying why doesn’t Biden get this done? Well, because Biden only has a majority of effectively four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate — with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends,” Biden said, despite the moderate senators’ record of voting in favor of the President’s agenda, at least thus far.
Biden went on to note that the House passed the sweeping “For the People Act,” also known as HR1, to expand voting rights in the U.S. The President vowed to “fight like heck” for its passage when the Senate takes the bill up later this month, and acknowledged that the House is also working on passing the less-comprehensive John Lewis Voting Rights Act. The robust “For the People Act” faces an uphill battle in the Senate — Manchin has already expressed issues with the broad nature of the bill. That coupled with his opposition to nuking the filibuster leaves little room for optimism for the sweeping measure to pass the Senate.
The President added that he has asked Vice President Harris, who presides over the Senate, to spearhead efforts to protect voting rights.
“With her leadership and your support, we’re going to overcome again, I promise you, but it’s going to take a hell of a lot of work,” Biden said.
Last week, the House-passed bill for the bipartisan Jan. 6 commission failed to pass through the Senate after the upper chamber’s Republicans used the filibuster to kill the measure in a 54-35 vote (several senators played hooky during the vote). Only six GOP senators — Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) — crossed party lines to break the filibuster and advance the bill to a floor debate. That effort fell short of the 10 Republicans needed for the bill’s passage.
Both Manchin and Sinema have become the main roadblocks to Senate Democrats’ efforts to abolish the filibuster.
Last week, Manchin said he remains opposed to breaking the filibuster and lowering the 60-vote threshold to get the Jan. 6 commission bill passed through the Senate.
“I’m not ready to destroy our government,” Manchin said. “I think they will come together, you have to have faith that there’s 10 good people.”
On Tuesday, Manchin reportedly expressed his frustration with reporters repeatedly pressing him on his opposition to eliminating or reforming the filibuster.
“I’m not separating our country, OK?” Manchin said, according to The Hill. “I don’t know what you all don’t understand about this. You ask the same question every day. It’s wrong.”
Watch Biden’s remarks below:
Biden: …with two members of the Senate that vote more with my Republican friends pic.twitter.com/XxlQ7WdrFA
— Acyn (@Acyn) June 1, 2021