White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki went into damage control Wednesday after President Joe Biden called out two Senate Democrats for voting more “with my Republican friends.”
Biden’s remarks came on Tuesday in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he was commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1921 massacre of black city residents, according to a report in the Washington Examiner.
“I hear all the folks on TV saying why doesn’t Biden get this done. 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,” the president said Tuesday.
The “two members” Biden referred to were likely Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. who have voted with Biden on his major legislation but have also proved unreliable on items such as voting for a Jan. 6 commission and the minimum wage, both items with strong Democratic support in Congress.
Their two votes are seen as key as Democrats push for the end of the filibuster in the Senate to circumvent Republicans blocking their agenda.
Wednesday, Psaki said the remark was addressing simplified issue discussions on television news shows.
“TV isn’t always made for complex conversations about policymaking,” she told reporters Wednesday. “He considers them both friends, he considers him both good working partners, and he also believes that in democracy, we don’t have to see eye to eye on every detail of every single issue in order to work together.”
While the senators have been in Biden’s corner for the most part, they have voted heavily with Republicans during the term of former President Donald Trump, according to a Washington Post article.
Although a Democrat, Manchin comes from the heavily red West Virginia, and Sinema from Arizona, where the late Republican Sen. John McCain held sway for years, like Sinema, often butting heads with his own party.
Sinema is the first Democrat to serve in the Senate from that state in 30 years, beating Republican Martha McSally in 2018, according to Tucson television station KVOA-4.
With a tie of 50-50 votes in the Senate, Democrats need all hands-on deck to move their agenda and large bills like infrastructure and voting rights looming in the coming months.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he is going to move the voting bill, which passed the House, into the Senate in June, and needs the support of all Democrats in the upper chamber, according to the Post article.