Psaki: Lawmaker critiques of Biden on voting rights ‘a fight against the wrong opponent’

White House press secretary Jen Psaki argued on Tuesday that progressive members of Congress criticizing President Joe Biden for not more forcefully advocating the passage of voting rights legislation were picking “a fight against the wrong opponent.”

The remarks from the president’s top spokesperson came hours ahead of an expected Senate vote on congressional Democrats’ expansive election and ethics reform bill, a package virtually certain to fail in the face of staunch Republican opposition.

The bill’s likely demise has provoked new calls from Democrats to reform or altogether eliminate the Senate’s legislative filibuster — the 60-vote threshold now in place for most bills — while the party’s progressive lawmakers have also demanded that the president take a more public-facing role in the voting rights debate.

“He needs to be a lot more vocal and a lot more out front,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) told CNN earlier Tuesday, referring to Biden. Asked about those remarks at a White House briefing, Psaki told reporters: “I would suggest that … those words are a fight against the wrong opponent.”

Psaki said Biden “has been passionate throughout the course of his time in public office” about the issue of voting rights, and that he remains “absolutely revolted” by a recent wave of Republican laws on the state level that Democrats and activists contend make it more difficult to vote.

Responding to Biden’s progressive critics, Psaki said: “We share their passion. We share the desire to fight these efforts … It doesn’t mean that that fight will always be easy, but he is going to stand by them in this effort.”

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