Manchin to meet with NAACP next week to discuss voting rights

The NAACP on Wednesday announced that its president and CEO Derrick Johnson will sit down with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) next week to discuss voting rights legislation — a top Democratic priority that has been hamstrung by the Senate filibuster. 

“The right to vote is under attack,” Johnson said in a statement  

“We must do everything we can to protect the American people’s sacred right to participate in the democratic process. Our vote is our voice, and we will not be silenced.”

Leaders of other prominent civil rights groups will also be in attendance, according to the NAACP.

Congressional Democrats and activist groups have been vocal in calling out the barrage of new restrictive voting laws that have been pushed by Republican-controlled legislatures nationwide since this year.

A slew of states, including Georgia, Arizona, Florida, Iowa and Montana, have been successful in signing sweeping restrictions into law, while other states are on the verge of doing so.

Many have argued that these new laws specifically target Black Americans and other voters of color, following a presidential election that broke turnout records across the board.

Democratic lawmakers have also asserted that the onset of voter restrictions was fueled by the “big lie” — the debunked claim from former President Trump that November’s election was stolen from him — and the refusal of numerous Republicans in Congress to refute Trump’s narrative. 

To counter GOP efforts, Democrats have pushed the For the People Act (H.R. 1) as well as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, bills that would install greater federal oversight in elections. 

In particular, the legislation that bears the name of the late congressman and civil rights icon would reinstate the federal preclearance formula that was gutted from the Voting Rights Act via a landmark Supreme Court decision in 2013.

The intricacies of the new formula are somewhat hazy as the bill hasn’t been formally introduced this session, but the original algorithm required states and jurisdictions with histories of racial voter discrimination to get approval from the Justice Department before implementing changes to voting procedure.

And though the For the People Act passed the House in March, it has floundered in the Senate because of the filibuster. 

Because of this, pressure has mounted on Democrats to nix the filibuster, which forces legislation to have 60 “yes” votes to stop debate and prompt a floor vote on the measure.  

No filibuster would allow Democrats to send legislation to President Biden’s desk by simple majority, which they have thanks to Vice President Harris’s tie-breaking vote.

But to say goodbye to the filibuster, they would need the support of the moderate Manchin, who staunchly opposes getting rid of the Senate rule.

Manchin has routinely lambasted Republican senators for their unwillingness to work across the aisle, but has maintained that bipartisanship is the answer, saying that he wouldn’t vote to get rid of the filibuster even so that the pair of voting rights bills could get passed.

The West Virginia senator isn’t the only moderate Democrat who is opposed to getting rid of the filibuster; Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema also opposes its removal and others remain on the fence. 

The Hill has reached out to Manchin’s office.

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Lewis Kyrsten Sinema

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