Jan 17, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Harris: "Not going to absolve" Manchin, Sinema on voting rights

Picture of Kamala Harris
Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Vice President Harris said Monday that she is "not going to absolve" any member of the Senate who will not take action to pass voting rights legislation when she was asked specifically about Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

Why it matters: The Senate this week will take up voting legislation that's already passed in the House. The bill is certainly doomed, due to a lack of Republican support and a refusal from Manchin and Sinema to change the filibuster rule.

Driving the news: Schumer said in a letter to colleagues earlier this month the Senate will debate and vote on changing the Senate's filibuster rules if Republicans block a vote to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

  • Without Manchin and Sinema, these changes are also likely to fail.

What she's saying: "The United States Senate has the opportunity and, I daresay, the responsibility to pass these bills through Congress so the president can sign them. And the resistance to doing that will not deter us from our commitment to getting it done," Harris told reporters at a MLK day volunteer event in Washington.

  • When asked about what her message to Manchin and Sinema would be, Harris said: "As I've said before, there are a hundred members of the United States Senate, and I'm not going to absolve — nor should any of us — absolve any member of the United States Senate from taking on a responsibility to follow through on the oath that they all took to support and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Catch up quick: President Biden last week threw his support behind changing the filibuster, saying: "I believe the threat to our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass the voting rights bill, debate them, vote, let the majority prevail."

  • "And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rule, including getting rid of the filibuster for this."

Between the lines: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last week said Republicans would immediately retaliate if Democrats change the filibuster.

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