President Joe Biden was in the Senate for almost 40 years and does not prefer to change the filibuster, but he supported reconciliation to get his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill through because it was important that the measure not wait for months of negotiations to be passed, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
"His preference is to not make changes to the filibuster, and he wants to leave the door open to bipartisan work," Psaki said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "People may say that's naive. He feels he's only 40 days into his administration, and he wants the door to be open so Democrats and Republicans can work together on legislation moving forward ... everybody wants to rebuild roads and bridges."
Now, the bill appears to be ready to pass on a party-line vote, she said, but Biden "wasn't going to play games and wait for relief to get to the American people."
However, congressional Republicans have strongly opposed the bill, criticizing it as a laundry list of progressive demands. Psaki criticized them as being "outliers to where the American people are," because "the majority of the country supports this bill," including Republicans.
"This is going to require a moment of self-reflection for Republicans who aren't supporting getting checks to 160 million Americans, money to vaccinate people. Since when is that a Democratic idea? It's an idea most Americans support. Maybe they need to look inside why they are opposed to it," she said.
The COVID-19 relief bill will also help provide funding to help the nation's schools reopen, said Psaki. "I have kids. You have kids," she said. "We also are on the verge of passing the American rescue plan with $160 billion to help some of the school districts that don't have the resources get that job done."
Biden also wants passage of the sweeping House voting reform "For the People Act," as making it easier for people to vote is a "core value" of his presidency, Psaki added.
"If people have the best ideas, they should want more people to vote," said Psaki. "The president wants the legislation to pass, and most importantly, in making sure more people have access to voting, being able to vote, making it easier. That is a core value for the presidency. He will push for this. He will keep looking for ways to get that done over the course of the next couple of months."
Psaki also on Tuesday defended the administration's decision to keep migrant children in the United States rather than send them back to their home countries.
"This administration did not feel it was humane or moral to send kids back on the treacherous journey back to where they were fleeing persecution or difficult circumstances," said Psaki. "Now we need to find facilities, shelters where they can have access to lawyers, to doctors."
She added that the administration is working to "move kids as quickly as possible" into shelters where they can have access to healthcare and other resources, and then quickly move them into sponsor homes or connect them with family members.
"We're not ripping children from the arms of their parents," said Psaki. "That's exactly what the Trump administration did. We don't think that is a moral step. We are not sending them on a treacherous trip that is dangerous and many have lost their lives. That is another big difference."
She added that during the previous administration, "sometimes there was a jump to connect kids to individuals, adults who claimed they were family members or claimed they knew them. There were issues of child trafficking. We need to prevent that too. We need to take the time to vet the individuals to whom these kids are being connected. We're trying to figure out how to expedite that process ... there is no question that this is a heartbreaking circumstance at the border."
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