Manchin's Opposition Clouds Future of Dems' Elections Bill

Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie

Samuel Corum- Pool Via Cnp Zuma Press

Manchin posted his reasons for voting against overhauling election laws in the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

"As such, congressional action on federal voting rights legislation must be the result of both Democrats and Republicans coming together to find a pathway forward or we risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials", wrote Manchin. Among dozens of other provisions, the state offers 15 days of early voting and requires the state to allow unreasonable absentee ballots.

The now Republican said he grew up as a Democrat like others in his community and thought it would help him stay connected to other African Americans. But without Manchin's support, the bill has no chance of advancing.

Even if all 50 Democrats remain united, the withdrawal of seven from the Republican faction is not enough to defeat the filibuster. "The failed vote in the Senate had six fearless Republicans, but that was four short of the ten necessary to advance the legislation", Manchin said May 28.

Republicans' willingness to block the commission represents a turning point, said Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for Fix Our Senate, a coalition of progressive groups dedicated to eliminating the filibuster. "You can't divide our country further by thinking you've given leeway to one or the other, and if they think they're going to win by subverting and oppressing people from voting, they're going to lose".

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., one of the measure's lead sponsors, said Sunday he was disappointed by Manchin's opposition.

Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of OR, the lead sponsor of the For the People Act, said in a statement he is disappointed by Manchin's position, but he would not give up. That would require Democrats to gain at least 11 Republican votes to support the legislation if Manchin maintains his opposition.

The move drew sharp condemnation from Democrats, as the right-leaning Manchin holds a decisive vote in the Senate, which is split 50-50. Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. But they aren't alone, with as many as 10 Democratic senators also reluctant to change the rules.

The voting rights legislation would nullify many GOP-led voting restrictions passed in the states.

Biden said voting rights are "precious" and must be protected and promised that June would be the "month of action" at Capitol Hill. "I'm going to fight like heck with every tool at my disposal for its passage". The agenda then gets trickier: Next on the chamber's to-do list, according to Mr. Schumer, is the voting legislation and gun control, as well as bills that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and aim to end pay disparities between men and women.

"I believe that partisan voting will break the already weakened bondage of democracy, so I oppose people's law", Manchin wrote.

"If you were to keep the idea that maybe you would vote to kill the filibuster, wouldn't that give Republicans an incentive to actually negotiate, because old Joe Manchin's out there and who knows what he's going to do?"

In March, House Democrats passed the voting bill by a near party-line 220-210 vote. The bill will limit party gerrymandering in parliamentary constituencies, remove voting hurdles, and provide transparency to the campaign finance system, which allows wealthy donors to anonymously provide political funding.

The measure has been a priority for Democrats since they won their House majority in 2018. However, following President Donald Trump's false allegations about the 2020 presidential election, the urgency increased and a riot broke out in the Capitol on January 6.

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