Psaki Pressed on Harris' Absence From Biden Voting Rights Meeting Despite Being 'Put in Charge' of the Issue


White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says Vice President Kamala Harris has played a “pivotal role” in the administration’s voting rights push despite her absence from President Joe Biden’s “crucial” meeting with Senate Democrats on the issue.

On Friday, Psaki was asked, “Kamala Harris was put in charge of voting rights, why wasn’t she with the president at the crucial Senate lunch to sell the bill?”

“The vice president has been selling the bill across the country,” she responded. “Obviously delivering speeches and engaging and meeting with activists. She was also working the phones over the last couple days and has played a pivotal role, no question, and will continue to moving forward.”

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On Thursday, Biden met with Senate Democrats to sell them on passing voting rights legislation and urge them to change the filibuster if Republicans block the bills.

However, CBS News’ Tim Perry noted that Harris did not attend the meeting, despite being tapped by Biden to lead the administration’s push to pass voting rights legislation.

The filibuster is a procedural hurdle that requires 60 votes for bills to pass the Senate. In a 50-50 Senate, that means at least 10 Republicans would need to join Democrats for legislation to pass the chamber.

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Changing the filibuster would require all 50 Democrats to vote for the move and would let them advance legislation with just 51 votes, with Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.

During a fiery speech on Tuesday, Biden urged the Senate to change the filibuster rules, if necessary, to pass sweeping voting rights legislation.

“I believe that the threat to our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bills, debate them, vote, let the majority prevail,” he said, adding, “And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules including getting rid of the filibuster for this.”

Shortly before Biden met with Senate Democrats on Thursday, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) said that while she supports voting rights legislation, she plans to stand firm in her opposition to making changes to the 60 vote threshold in the Senate, as IJR reported.

Without Sinema’s vote, Democrats would not have enough support to change the filibuster rules.

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After his meeting, the president expressed uncertainty about whether the Senate would change the filibuster rules and pass the voting rights legislation.

“I hope we can get this done, the honest to God answer is I don’t know whether we can get this done,” he told reporters. “But one thing for certain [is] 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.”

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