Biden calls out moderate Democratic senators, urges ‘action’


President Biden on Tuesday called out a pair of moderate Democratic senators as he faces emboldened opposition to key pieces of his agenda.

Touting the need to pass legislation on voting rights, Biden dismissed criticism over Democrats’ inability thus far to move certain bills forward, noting that Republicans remain nearly universally opposed to the pieces of legislation and are joined by two Democrats the president declined to name.

“I hear all the folks on TV saying, ‘Why doesn’t Biden get this done?'” he said Tuesday. “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.”

The comment appeared to be targeted at Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who have been chief opponents of ending the filibuster to ease Democrats’ path to passing legislation in the Senate.

While both lawmakers do vote more frequently with Democrats than Republicans, Manchin has pressed the White House and his Senate colleagues to focus their efforts on strengthening the 1965 Voting Rights Act rather than passing a more expansive bill.

Sinema supports the broader legislation, which seeks to prohibit states from restricting the ability to vote by mail, press states to use independent redistricting commissions to draw their congressional lines and limit the influence of money in politics, but has been adamant that any vote for it be bipartisan.

Neither Manchin nor Sinema immediately responded to requests for comment from The Hill.

The comments come as Democrats tout the need for federal voting rights legislation as GOP-led states across the country pass a slate of bills restricting access to the ballot box.

However, any legislation faces an uphill climb in passing the 50-50 Senate, where most bills must garner 60 votes to pass.

At his speech in Tulsa, Okla., on Tuesday, Biden tapped Vice President Harris to take the lead on voting rights, saying June would be a “month of action on Capitol Hill.” 

“To signify the importance of our efforts, today I’m asking Vice President Harris to help these efforts and lead them among her many other responsibilities,” Biden said. “With her leadership and your support, we’re going to overcome again, but it’s going to take a hell of a lot of work.”

Tags Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema

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