President Joe Biden called out centrist Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on Tuesday for acting as a roadblock to the party’s ambitious agenda, The Associated Press reports.
Biden traveled to Tulsa on Tuesday to mark the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre and fielded questions about why the Democrats’ voting rights proposals have languished in Congress.
“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 voted more with my Republican friends,” Biden said, referring to Manchin and Sinema.
Biden said he is dispatching Vice President Kamala Harris to lead the White House effort to advance the voting rights legislation this month.
Democrats have introduced the For the People Act, a sweeping law touching on voting rights, election administration, and corruption that stands little chance of passing the Senate. Democrats have also introduced a narrower Voting Rights Advancement Act named after the late Rep. John Lewis, which would restore a requirement for states to get preclearance from the Justice Department to make any electoral changes.
Not just Manchin and Sinema:
Manchin and Sinema have not voted more with Republicans than Democrats, as Biden claimed, and they are not the only ones standing in the way of his agenda.
Though both have defended the filibuster, as many as eight other Democratic senators have quietly resisted backing changes to the rule as well.
Neither bill has much chance of getting the 60 votes necessary to defeat a Republican filibuster, though Manchin has suggested that there may be bipartisan support for the Voting Rights Act.
Manchin has also come out against the For the People Act, meaning that the bill does not even have 50 Democratic votes even if the filibuster is eliminated.
Democratic leaders are planning to ramp up pressure this month.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would bring the For the People Act to a vote later this month.
“The June work period will be extremely challenging,” Schumer told colleagues.
Harris said she would work with voting rights groups, community organizations, and the private sector to push to pass voting rights legislation.
“The work ahead of us is to make voting accessible to all American voters, and to make sure every vote is counted through a free, fair, and transparent process,” she said. “This is the work of democracy.”