Biden calls out Sinema, Manchin for blocking agenda

President Joe Biden speaks as he commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, at the Greenwood Cultural Center, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, in Tulsa, Okla. /AP Photo/Evan Vucci

By ALEXANDRA JAFFE Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden called out two fellow Democrats on Tuesday in explaining why he hasn’t enacted some of the most ambitious elements of his agenda, noting that slim majorities in the House and evenly divided Senate have hamstrung legislative negotiations around key issues like voting rights.

Biden, speaking during an event marking the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, responded to critics who question why he hasn’t been able to get a wide-reaching voting rights bill passed.

“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,” he lamented.

It appeared to be a veiled reference to Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both of whom have frustrated Democrats with their defense of the filibuster — the rule requiring most legislation to win 60 votes to pass, making many of Democrats’ biggest priorities like voting rights and gun control bills dead on arrival in the 50-50 Senate. While Sinema is a sponsor of the voting rights bill that passed the House, known as the For the People Act, Manchin has refused to sign on, calling the measure “too broad.”

But in fact, it’s not just Manchin and Sinema who oppose doing away with the filibuster — as many as 10 Democratic senators are reluctant to change the rules even for must-pass legislation like the voting rights bill. Biden himself has not said he wants to end the filibuster.

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