Pelosi says Biden’s voting speech was ‘wonderful’ and ‘fabulous’

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) leaves her weekly press conference on Thursday, January 13, 2022.
Greg Nash

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday said President Biden’s speech on voting rights delivered Tuesday was “wonderful” and “fabulous,” dismissing criticism from a top Senate Democrat of the president’s impassioned pitch for election reform.

During her weekly press conference Pelosi was asked about comments made by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Democrat in the upper chamber. Durbin on Wednesday said Biden’s may have gone “a little too far” with his rhetoric when delivering a speech on voting rights in Georgia.

Asked for her thoughts on Durbin’s comment and if she believed Biden may have gone a bit too far, Pelosi said she stands with the president. She also said she understands that Durbin, the majority whip, “has to do what he has to do” for his caucus.

“No, I stand with the president. I think that I, I thought his speech was wonderful and I stand with him in the fight for voting rights. I, no criticism of Mr. Durbin, he has to do what he has to do and vis-a-vis his own members and the rest,” she said.

“So again, since you asked my critique of the president speech, I thought it was fabulous. I come out to congratulate him for it, it was well received even among those who have had some apprehension of what’s going to happen with this, all of this next, so I thank him for it and I stand with the president in the fight for voting rights,” she later added.

Biden on Tuesday directly expressed his support for changing Senate rules “whichever way they need to be changed to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights,” setting the scene for a high-stakes battle in the upper chamber on election reform.

The president also appeared to express ire with the slow pace that voting reform negotiations have progressed on Capitol Hill, saying “I’ve been having these quiet conversations with members of Congress for the last two months. I’m tired of being quiet.”

The House on Thursday passed a voting rights bill in a party-line vote, sending it to the Senate where Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has vowed to bring up a vote on the legislation. Schumer earlier this month said that he will force a vote on changing the Senate’s rules by Jan. 17 if Republicans again block voting rights reform, though he did not lay out how he will do so.

Any effort to change Senate rules, however, will likely be difficult, as some Democrats — namely Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — have both previously said they are against amending Senate rules to approve the bills.

Pelosi on Thursday said the only observations she made about Biden’s speech in Georgia was in regards to historical references the president made in his remarks.

Biden in his speech mentioned Dr. Martin Luther King, the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), former President Abraham Lincoln and the Confederate President Jefferson Davis. He also mentioned George Wallace, a former governor of Alabama who opposed the civil rights movement,  and segregationist Bull Connor. 

Pelosi said “nobody knows who Bull Connor is.”

“The only criticism I would make too, I wouldn’t say they’re criticism but observations, nobody knows who Bull Connor is, you know if we’re making the case to say wanna be with Martin Luther King or Bull Connor, who’s that? Wanna be with Martin Luther King or the, Martin Luther King and John Lewis or the people who unleashed the fierce dogs on them? That’s who Bull Connor is. Strom Thurman, none of us have a lot of happy memories about Strom Thurman,” she added.

Tags Chuck Schumer Dick Durbin Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Lewis Kyrsten Sinema Nancy Pelosi

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