Joe Biden 'Profoundly Disappointed' as First Year in Office Ends in Senate Failure

President Joe Biden said the Senate had "failed to stand up for democracy" after it rejected the Democrats' push to pass voting-rights legislation aimed at rolling back growing restrictions at the ballot box.

With Thursday marking the first anniversary of the president taking the oath of office, the key Biden domestic policy was dealt a blow after Democratic senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) backed Republicans in opposing the voting bill, preventing a straight majority.

The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act the Democrats were trying to introduce was a countermeasure to the 34 laws that the Brennan Center for Justice said in December were passed in 19 GOP-led states over the last year. Critics say the new laws adversely affect people of color.

Republicans on Wednesday blocked the voting rights package by enacting the filibuster, which requires a 60-vote threshold in the 50-50 split upper house. Democrats had been seeking to change the filibuster for the voting rights bill, but that needed the backing of all the senators who caucus with the party.

That move was scuppered by Manchin and Sinema, who voted with the 50 GOP senators, delivering a major setback for congressional Democrats, who accuse Republicans of attacking voting rights and fair elections at the state level.

Biden compared these moves with the January 6 insurrection carried out by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

"Republican state legislatures are engaged in an unprecedented effort to suppress the sacred right to vote," Biden said, adding that his party "will continue to advance necessary legislation and push for Senate procedural changes that will protect the fundamental right to vote."

"I am profoundly disappointed that the Senate has failed to stand up for our democracy," Biden said in a statement, "I am disappointed — but I am not deterred."

Wednesday's vote is the latest setback for Biden, who in the 12 months since he took office has seen his approval rating dip from 55 percent to 42 percent, with over 52 percent of Americans disapproving of the way he is doing his job.

His ratings dropped following the much criticized U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021.

Soaring COVID rates and the stalled Build Back Better legislation aimed at increasing the social security net have also impacted his popularity.

Following Wednesday's vote, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who had initiated a vote to change the rules to eliminate the filibuster, insisted that Democrats in the upper house "won't be deterred" and that "every senator's now on record."

"Americans see who's for voting rights," he tweeted. "It only strengthens our resolve to protect voting."

Meanwhile, House of Representative majority leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) tweeted that "sadly & unsurprisingly" the voting legislation "was blocked by every single Republican senator tonight. They will have to answer to history for their actions."

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden at the White House on January 19, 2022, in Washington, DC. He said he was "profoundly disappointed" after the Senate rejected the Democrats' push for voting rights legislation. Chip Somodevilla/Getty