Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday said she is “not going to absolve” senators who stand in the way of Democratic-led legislation aimed at overhauling the U.S. election system.
Harris, who made the comments in response to a question about Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., also suggested that legislators standing in the way of passing the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act are failing to uphold their oath to defend the Constitution.
“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 said during a volunteer event in Washington, D.C., marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
When a reporter asked a follow-up question about Manchin and Sinema, whose continued lack of support has stalled aspects of Biden’s agenda, Harris said, “As I’ve said before, there are 100 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.”
Harris has suggested before that legislators who do not go along with Biden’s voting rights legislation are violating their oath.
“When we have the discussion about who’s responsible, I will not absolve the 50 Republicans in the United States Senate from responsibility for upholding one of the most basic and important tenets of our democracy, which is free and fair elections and access to the ballot for all eligible voters,” Harris said to NBC News last week.
When NBC News anchor Craig Melvin also brought up Manchin and Sinema, Harris said, “I don’t think anyone should be absolved from the responsibility of preserving and protecting our democracy.”
“Especially when they took an oath to protect and defend our Constitution,” she added.
Following a racially-charged speech from Biden last week intended to gin up support for suspending the filibuster, Sinema delivered a speech explaining her refusal to bend on not eliminating the filibuster.
Biden has accused those who don’t support pushing through the election overhaul bill by suspending the filibuster of being on the side of prominent Democrat segregationists like Bull Connor and George Wallace, as well as Confederate President Jefferson Davis.