President Joe Biden said Thursday the Democratic Party was united despite a high-profile rift with two senators that blocked sweeping voting-rights legislation a day earlier.
“I know we’re disappointed by last night’s vote, Kamala [Harris] and I are deeply disappointed but we’re not deterred,” Biden said during a Democratic National Convention Grassroots Town Hall held virtually on the one-year anniversary of his inauguration.
Biden’s pledged to continue “pushing” for federal voting legislation even though the effort hit a brick wall Wednesday in the Senate, which has a 50-50 Democrat-Republican split.
Senate Republicans used a filibuster to stop the legislation. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema sided with the GOP to vote down a rule change that would’ve allowed Democrats to wait out the filibuster and get the legislation through with a simple majority.
The votes were expected to fail due to the two Democrats’ opposition, and without a rule change, a 60-vote threshold is needed to avoid a filibuster.
“We’re gonna keep pushing,” the president added. “We’re not gonna give up. The DNC’s gonna keep pushing on voter education, on voter engagement, voter protection in states while we continue to push for federal legislation.”
He said the party would stand up to “The Big Lie,” referring to unfounded accusations that questioned Biden’s 2020 election victory over former President Donald Trump. He flung accusations at the GOP that they were trying for “voter suppression and election subversion.”
Biden called the midterm elections this year “critical” as Democrats cling to slim control of both houses of Congress, with the vice president serving as a tiebreaker vote in the evenly divided Senate.
“We have to keep control of the House and Senate, expand our majority,” he said. “We need to reelect and elect Democratic governors and mayors, state legislatures, candidates up and down the ticket.”
Heading into the election, he said there was party unity despite the well-documented split with Manchin and Sinema and dissent that has stymied several party initiatives including the massive social spending Build Back Better bill.
“But we have unity in the Democratic Party,” Biden said. “Forty-eight of the 50 Democrats vote with me on everything and the other two vote with my on 80 percent.”
He said Republicans lack a platform beyond acting as obstructionists to his initiatives and he alluded to Trump’s continued influence on the GOP – though he didn’t name the former president by name.
“The way we’re going to do that is tell the voters what we’ve done and what we plan to do. By making it clear there’s a clear choice – a choice between a party that works for people and is focused on the future and a party that’s complete controlled by one man and is focused on re-litigating the past.”
The vice president also delivered remarks despite some technical glitches during the town hall, which largely focused on speakers outlining what they viewed as successes of the administration.