Harris says she won’t ‘absolve’ senators over voting rights push

Vice President Harris speaks at a signing ceremony for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on the South Lawn of the White House on Monday, November 15, 2021.
Greg Nash

Vice President Harris said in an interview that she would not “absolve” 50 Republican senators opposing Democrats’ voting rights and election legislation of their responsibility to hold “free and fair elections and access to the ballot.”

“I will not absolve the 50 Republicans in the United States Senate from responsibility for upholding one of the most basic and important tenets of our democracy, which is free and fair elections and access to the ballot for all eligible voters,” Harris said in an interview with NBC’s Craig Melvin, part of which aired Wednesday evening on “NBC Nightly News.”

Melvin asked Harris about Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who have both expressed opposition to getting rid of the 60-vote Senate filibuster — a legislative rule currently blocking Democrats from being able to pass voting rights legislation amid Republican opposition. 

“I don’t think anyone should be absolved from the responsibility of preserving and protecting our democracy,” Harris answered. “Especially when they took an oath to protect and defend our Constitution.”

Harris’s comments come as Democrats are laying out plans to take up and consider consolidated voting rights legislation that would combine aspects of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday evening that the House would take up the consolidated legislation and pass it on Thursday, moving to the Senate for “urgent consideration.”

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said earlier Wednesday in a memo to Senate Democrats that he would be using a loophole from a Senate procedure to at least allow for a debate on a consolidated voting rights bill, though the final legislation would still be subject to a 60-vote filibuster in order to be passed.

Harris and President Biden on Tuesday made an impassioned plea in Georgia for Democrats to do away with the filibuster in order to pass the voting rights legislation. 

Tags Charles Schumer Charles Schumer Filibuster Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kamala Harris Kyrsten Sinema Nancy Pelosi Nancy Pelosi voting rights

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