Biden: Frustration of some Black voters ‘a problem that is my own making’

Associated Press/Patrick Semansky

President Biden on Wednesday attributed frustration among some Black voters who perceive a lack of urgency on voting rights legislation to his own lack of communication on the topic.

Biden said part of the problem was related to timing of when voting rights was brought to the forefront in just the last week, suggesting it was “dictated by events happening in the country and around the world.”

The other issue, Biden conceded, was he had not been out in public communicating directly with Black voters as much as he would have liked during his first year in office.

“I have not been out in the community nearly enough. I’ve been here an awful lot,” Biden said from the White House. “I find myself where I don’t have a chance to look people in the eye, because of both COVID and things that are happening in Washington, to be able to go out and do the things that I’ve always been able to do pretty well. Connect with people. Let them take a measure of my sincerity. Let them take a measure of who I am.”

“But I think that’s a problem that is my own making by not communicating as much as I should have,” Biden continued. “Yet you find that when you deal with members of the Black Caucus and others in the United States Congress, I still have very close working relationships. So, it’s like every community. I’m sure there are those in the community … saying why haven’t I been able to do A, B, C, or D. So it’s just going to take a little bit of time.”

Activists and Black voters especially expressed mounting frustration about the lack of progress on voting rights legislation, with many arguing that Biden had not sufficiently used the bully pulpit to press the issue until recently.

The Senate is poised to vote on two federal voting rights bills this week — the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act — though both are expected to fail in the face of the 60-vote legislative filibuster.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have both voiced opposition to altering Senate rules to allow the bills to sidestep the filibuster, further sinking their prospects.

Democrats and voting rights advocates have sounded alarm bells that laws passed in GOP-held legislatures in states like Texas and Georgia since the last election will make it more difficult for voters of color in particular to access the ballot box.

Tags Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Lewis Kyrsten Sinema

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