On Sunday, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced he plans to vote against Democrats’ expansive voting rights bill. This can potentially deliver the fatal blow to Democrats’ hopes of enacting their own election and ethics reform bills.
Partisan Voting Rights
In an op-ed published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the West Virginia senator warned against the Democrats’ voting rights bill. “Partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy,” he said. He added that he will also not vote to scrap or modify the legislative filibuster.
Many political analysts do not find the WV Senator’s stand as unsurprising. Manchin is the only Senate Democrat who did not co-sponsor the SB 1 legislation. Specifically, he expressed concerns about passing election reform measures along party lines. Still, some Democrats continue to hope that Manchin could turn back on his decision.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to put SB 1 on the floor during the last week of June. Democrats believe that the bill is the only hope for a response to a number of laws State Republicans introduced over the year.
SB 1 will establish federally mandated voting rules and require no-excuse mail voting and in-person voting. In addition, it can limit partisan gerrymandering while creating a public financing system.
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Meanwhile, progressives hoped the vehicle will start the legislative battle for the filibuster. To get the Democrats’ voting rights bill passed, they must go around the fact that they won’t have Republican support.
Instead, they will turn to the filibuster to change the vote rules into simple majority rules. Unfortunately for the Democrats, both Senators Manchin and ]Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) said they will not support any moves to defeat the filibuster.
Manchin Defends His Decision
Manchin defended his opposition to SB 1, also known as For the People Act. He said the bill “the wrong piece of legislation to bring our country together and unite our country.
I’m not supporting that because I think it would divide us further. I don’t want to be in a country that’s divided any further than [the one] I’m in right now,” he said.
However, Senator Angus King (I-ME), another co-sponsor who caucuses Senate Democrats, acknowledged Sunday that the bill can still undertake modifications. “I have said that all along. It’s an 800 or 900 or 1,000-page bill.
There are clearly some things I think need to be negotiated. And I think Joe Manchin realizes that,” King said. Meanwhile, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), the bill’s lead sponsor, said in a statement on Sunday that although “I wish with all my heart that this bill wasn’t necessary … I am dead set against doing nothing.
As I have told all my colleagues many times, I am open to any conversation about the provisions of this bill, and will not give up on American democracy,” Merkley said.
John Lewis Voting Rights Act
Instead of SB 1, Manchin reiterated his support for the voting rights bill named after the late Representative John Lewis (D-GA).
He hoped that the bill will restore a requirement that certain jurisdictions receive federal approval before they can make changes to voting laws. Similarly, Republicans won’t likely support this move. So far, only one GOP senator, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) became the only Senate Republican to co-sponsor the legislation last year.
Watch the Reuters video reporting that West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin opposes voting rights bill pushed by Democrats:
Do you agree with Senator Joe Manchin that SB1 proposed by Democrats will make things worse by being partisan? Also, what do you think of Manchin?
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