White House press secretary Jen Psaki's appearance on MSNBC Thursday wasn't the normal friendly affair as she clashed with left-wing host Mehdi Has
White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s appearance on MSNBC Thursday wasn’t the normal friendly affair as she clashed with left-wing host Mehdi Hasan.
During an appearance on “The 11th Hour,” Psaki was pressed by Hasan over the timeline of Biden’s decision to change his mind and openly support the idea of changing the Senate filibuster, with the latter relentlessly questioning Psaki as to why it took so long for him to complete his turn on the issue.
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“Jen, why wait almost a year to change his view and come out so publicly against the filibuster? To give the rousing speech in Atlanta, that he finally gave this month? We lost all of 2021 while he waited for bipartisanship,” Hasan said after citing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., in saying Biden “dragged his feet” on the issue, and playing a video clip of Psaki from March 2021 telling a reporter Biden supported filibuster reform.
“First, Mehdi, that wasn’t the first speech on voting rights he gave, hardly. He gave a number of speeches last year–” Psaki said before Hasan interrupted her, arguing Biden’s speech in Atlanta earlier this month, in which he spoke about the need to change the filibuster, was the first time he had ever done so publicly.
“First time that he came out publicly against the filibuster. First time he came out so explicitly on the filibuster on voting rights,” Hasan said.
“I am getting there! I agree with you, Mehdi. I agree with you. I’m getting there,” Psaki responded, appearing frustrated.
She went on to say that Biden had also signed an executive order on voting rights after taking office, and that him publicly speaking out against the filibuster earlier wouldn’t have changed the views of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., on maintaining it.
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“I’m not saying it would have changed their minds earlier, but you’re telling me if he hadn’t come out earlier, if the President of the United States with the bully pulpit, the leader of the Democratic Party, had he not come out three, six, nine months earlier and said, ‘We need to get this filibuster out of the way for voting rights,’ that wouldn’t have helped?” Hasan asked, also appearing frustrated.
Psaki emphasized again that there was no evidence Sinema or Manchin would have changed their minds, and argued that it actually could have had the opposite effect on other Democratic senators.
Biden was criticized following his decision to support changes to the filibuster; in 2005 while in the Senate representing Delaware, he said that would be “a fundamental power grab for the majority party.”
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A motion to change the filibuster process failed in the Senate earlier this month with Sinema and Manchin siding with all Republicans in voting against it. That for the moment stalled passage of two federal election overhaul bills supported by Biden and most Democrats.