- Biden called for changing the filibuster in order to pass voting-rights legislation.
- Sen. Sinema, a Democrat, spoke in opposition to changing the filibuster on Thursday.
- Shortly after, Biden said of his voting-rights agenda: “I don’t know whether we can get this done.”
President Joe Biden was brutally honest about the fading prospects of his voting-rights agenda on Thursday after Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said she opposed changing the filibuster.
On Tuesday, Biden had forcefully called for changes to the Senate filibuster in an effort to pass voting-rights and democracy-reform legislation.
However, on Thursday, Sinema said in a Senate-floor speech that took many Democrats by surprise that she would not support any reform of the filibuster rule.
Sinema’s comments came shortly before Biden met with Democratic senators on Capitol Hill, where he sought to sought to rally his party around the voting-rights bill.
Biden said after his meeting: “I hope we can get this done. The honest to God answer is: I don’t know whether we can get this done.”
He vowed to continue fighting, however, saying: “Like every other major civil rights bill that came along, if we miss the first time, we can come back and try it a second time. We missed this time.”
The president went on to describe what he has characterised as attempts by Republicans to subvert free elections in the US.
“It’s about election subversion, not just whether or not people get to vote. Who counts the vote? That’s what this is about. That’s what makes this so different than anything else we’ve ever done,” said Biden.
“I don’t know that we can get it done, but I know one thing: As long as I have a breath in me, as long as I’m in the White House, as long as I’m engaged at all, I’m going to be fighting to change the way these legislatures have moving.”
In his Tuesday speech, Biden likened restrictive new GOP-backed voting laws to the racist laws of the segregationist South, and backed a bid to reform the Senate’s filibuster rule, which has twice been used by Republicans to block voting rights reform.
In addition to Sinema, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a centrist Democrat, has also expressed opposition to reforming the filibuster.
Biden needs the support of all 50 Democratic senators to suspend the filibuster rule, which allows a minority party to blockade legislation. The Senate is currently divided 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaker.
Democrats are expected to press ahead with debating a voting-rights bill and the reform of Senate rules, and Biden hosted Sinema and Manchin for discussions at the White House on Thursday night as he renewed his attempt to win their support for filibuster reform.