When New York Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones was at the White House for the signing of the proclamation making Juneteenth a national holiday last week, he told President Joe Biden their party needed him more involved in passing voting legislation on the Hill.
In response? Biden “just sort of stared at me,” Jones said, describing an “awkward silence” that passed between the two.
For Jones, the moment was emblematic of what he and a growing number of Democratic activists describe as a lackluster engagement from Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on an issue they consider urgent and necessary for the health of the democracy.
Although the White House has characterized the issue as “the fight of his presidency,” Biden has prioritized his economic initiatives, measures more likely to win Republican support in the Senate. And he’s shown little interest thus far in diving into a messy debate over changing Senate rules to pass the legislation on Democratic votes alone.