Manchin to vote against election overhaul bill
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he will vote against a sweeping bill to overhaul elections, dubbed the For the People Act, putting the fate of the legislation in jeopardy in the evenly split Senate.
In an op-ed published early Sunday morning in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Manchin, one of the Senate Democratic Conference’s most conservative members, zeroed in on the partisan nature of the legislation, which has not attracted any Republican support.
“I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening blinds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For The People Act,” Manchin wrote.
“The truth, I would argue, is that voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen,” he added.
Manchin also said he “will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster,” which a number of leading Democrats have suggested in order to pass election reform.
He said he will “seek bipartisan compromise no matter how difficult and to develop the political bonds that end divisions and help unite the country we love.”
The House in March passed the For the People Act in a 220-210 vote. No House Republicans supported the measure, and one Democrat voted against the legislation.
The bill would require states to offer mail-in ballots, a minimum of 15 days of early voting, and online and same-day voter registration. Additionally, it calls for the creation of independent commissions to draw congressional districts in an effort to put an end to partisan gerrymandering.
It would also provide additional resources to stave off foreign threats on elections, enable automatic voter registration and make Election Day a national holiday for federal workers.
The conversation surrounding election reform in Congress has increased in recent weeks after a number of GOP-led state legislatures have passed restricting voting reform bills.
Manchin in the op-ed urged his colleagues to come together and pass election reform while calling for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bipartisan election reform bill, to be updated and passed through regular order.
Manchin signaled in April that he would not support the For the People Act.
Without Manchin’s support for the bill and his opposition to nixing the filibuster, the likelihood of it passing the Senate and landing on President Biden’s desk has narrowed.
The legislation appears unlikely to attract the bipartisan 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster or the 50 votes necessary to pass if the party decides to use the nuclear option.
Biden last week appeared to call out Manchin and another moderate Democratic senator, noting that Republicans remain nearly universally opposed to the pieces of legislation and are joined by two Democrats he declined to name.
“I hear all the folks on TV saying, ‘Why doesn’t Biden get this done?'” he said Tuesday. “Well, because Biden only has a majority of effectively four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate, with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends.”
The comment appeared to be targeted at Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who have been chief opponents of ending the filibuster to ease Democrats’ path to passing legislation in the Senate.
–Updated at 12:17 p.m.