How Sen. Joe Manchin Dashed Democrats’ Hopes Of Passing A Sweeping Voting Rights Bill

Topline

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), one of his party’s most conservative lawmakers, revealed Sunday he plans to vote against Democrats’ sweeping election reform bill, dubbed the For the People Act, because it has failed to garner GOP support, effectively killing the legislation’s chances to pass given the Senate’s 50-50 split among Democrats and Republicans.

Key Facts

In a Charleston Gazette-Mail op-ed, Manchin pointed out that the bill, known as H.R.1, has garnered no support among Republicans and insisted sweeping election reform must be the result of bipartisan agreement, saying “partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakened binds of our democracy.”  

He also lamented that the “fundamental right to vote has itself become overtly politicized,” before blasting Democratic proposals to pass the bill on one-party lines by ending the filibuster, which could allow Republicans to block a vote on the legislation unless 60 senators vote against it.

“Do we really want to live in an America where one party can dictate and demand everything and anything it wants?” Manchin wrote, doubling-down on past support for the filibuster by saying he will not vote to weaken or eliminate it—even if it makes passing legislation “frustrating and slow.”

Instead, the senator voiced support for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, or H.R.4, a bill with backing from GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) that would restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in a bid to end voter discrimination.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) says the Senate will consider H.R.1 at the end of this month, while H.R.4 has yet to be introduced in the new Congress.

Crucial Quote 

“Today’s debate about how to best protect our right to vote and to hold elections, however, is not about finding common ground, but seeking partisan advantage,” Manchin wrote Sunday. “Whether it is state laws that seek to needlessly restrict voting or politicians who ignore the need to secure our elections, partisan policymaking won’t instill confidence in our democracy—it will destroy it.”

Key Background

Amid state-level Republican measures to impose more voting restrictions, voting rights disputes have intensified since the 2020 presidential election after an unprecedented surge in mail-in ballots that former President Donald Trump baselessly claimed led to election fraud. The For the People Act is a sprawling 800-page bill that would tackle everything from voter access, election integrity and campaign finance while broadening access to mail-in voting, early voting and same-day voter registration. H.R.4, on the other hand, would require some voting districts to obtain preclearance before making changes to voting practices.

Chief Critic

“We didn’t need an op-ed to know you’re unwilling to protect our democracy,” Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) tweeted Sunday, joining a wave of social media criticism directed at Manchin, whose name trended on Twitter Sunday morning alongside “He’s a Republican.”

What To Watch For

Rep. Terri Sewell, who originally sponsored H.R.4, has said the bill won’t likely face a House vote until September because lawmakers want to ready it against any court challenges. The bill seeks to reinstate provisions ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013, in part because they relied on decades-old data.

Further Reading

Texas Lawmakers Prepare To Pass Stringent Voting Restrictions (Forbes)

Biden Signs Voting Rights Executive Order On 56th Anniversary Of Selma’s Bloody Sunday (Forbes)



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