President Biden zinged Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin during a speech Tuesday — insinuating that they align themselves more with Republicans than their own party — while calling for Congress to take action on legislation to protect voting rights.
While he didn’t name them, Biden indirectly referred to Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sinema, D-Ariz., as “two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends.”
"I hear all the folks on [TV] saying, ‘Why doesn’t Biden get this done?’” he said at an event in Tulsa, Okla. “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."
Biden seemed to be alluding to a federal proposal that would, among other things, expand mail-in and early voting and require automatic voter registration. The bill passed the House in March and comes while several restrictive, Republican-backed voting bills have been proposed or passed at the state level.
Sinema and Manchin have been criticized for breaking with progressives on key issues, such as potentially eliminating the filibuster. However, political observers were quick to note that while the two moderates have become roadblocks when it comes to some Democratic priorities, it’s not true that they “vote more with Republicans”: According to FiveThirtyEight, Sinema and Manchin have voted with the White House 100 percent of the time since Biden’s inauguration.
On Tuesday, Biden also said he is giving Vice President Kamala Harris the responsibility of protecting voting rights, and that she’ll be tasked with helping get the pending voting legislation passed.
In a statement released after Biden’s speech, Harris said she “will engage the American people, and I will work with voting rights organizations, community organizations and the private sector to help strengthen and uplift efforts on voting rights nationwide. And we will also work with members of Congress to help advance these bills.”
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