White House defends Biden's record after week of setbacks

The White House defended President Joe Biden's record after a week of setbacks on stalled promises of climate action, drug pricing, police reform, voting rights, and more, leaving allies and Democratic voters frustrated — this time by pointing to the "realities" of passing legislation in the evenly split Senate.

Press secretary Jen Psaki also suggested that the administration was pushed to prioritize the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and that data show voters support this.

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"What's your message to Democratic voters out there who said they voted for lawmakers to protect voting rights, turn the tide on global warming, lower prescription drug prices, reform police departments, raise the minimum wage, tackle student debt, and have gotten none of it?" Psaki was asked during a press briefing on Friday.

"Our message to them is that we're still fighting for absolutely every component of what you just listed," Psaki replied, "and that right now, we're dealing with the realities of the fact that we have a very slim majority in the Senate and in the House. That makes things more challenging than they have been in the past.

"I would also note, and I bet a lot of Americans who have conveyed their advocacy for a lot of those issues, issues the president cares deeply about, have also cared deeply about getting the pandemic under control, have also cared deeply about ensuring schools are open across the country, that small businesses are functioning, that our economy is up and running, and those have been the top issues, basically, in every piece of data we've seen across the board. "

In an impassioned speech on Tuesday, Biden announced his support for changes to the Senate filibuster that would allow voting rights legislation to pass without Republican support. But frustrated by the lack of action, voting rights activists boycotted the speech, arguing the president should stay in Washington until he had concrete progress to show voters.

Changing the filibuster rule to allow the voting bills to move forward with a 51-vote majority could address this were enough Democrats on board. On Thursday, shortly before Biden was set to arrive on Capitol Hill to push Democrats to get the job done, the president was dealt a blow when two key Democratic senators again stated their opposition to significant rule changes.

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Biden's sweeping social spending bill has also stalled amid intraparty disagreements over major provisions. Known as Build Back Better, the plan includes child care and climate spending measures, among other Democratic priorities.

Last year, negotiations on a bipartisan police reform bill collapsed amid disagreements over liability protections for officers.

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