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DNC chair on Manchin and voting rights: 'Do what Americans want'

The chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) this week said that Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinThe Memo: The center strikes back Sunday shows - Voting rights, infrastructure in the spotlight Democratic clamor grows for select committee on Jan. 6 attack MORE (D-W.Va.) needs to “do what Americans want our senators to do” and support voting rights legislation being pursued by his party. 

"Joe Manchin needs to do what Americans want our senators to do, which is to protect their right to vote" said Jamie Harrison, the DNC's top executive, during an appearance on MSNBC this week. "We're not asking for any partisan thing. People say both sides ... this is not a both sides thing. Either you are for all Americans voting or you are against it. Either you are for securing democracy or you're against it." 

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Manchin, a conservative Democrat representing a state that voted for former President TrumpDonald TrumpMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back Republicans eye Nashville crack-up to gain House seat MORE in the last two presidential elections, has been targeted in recent weeks by the Democratic Party's progressive wing over his stated opposition to several policy initiatives. 

In an op-ed on Sunday, Manchin said he would vote against the For the People Act — a massive bill to overhaul elections in America — and reiterated his support for the legislative filibuster, a procedural hurdle Democrats have said Republicans are using to block needed change in America. 

"I think it will divide us further. I don't want to be in a country divided any further than I'm in right now. I love my country, and I think my Democrat and Republican colleagues feel the same," Manchin said of his decision not to support his party's voting rights bill. "If we continue to divide it and separate us more, it's not going to be united. It's not going to be the country that we love and know, and it's going to be hard because it'll be the back and forth, no matter who's in power." 

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Progressive lawmakers have said Manchin is needlessly standing in the way of progress, with one Democrat referring to the Senator from West Virginia this week as the "new Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPortman: Republicans are 'absolutely' committed to bipartisan infrastructure bill Graham calls voting rights bill 'biggest power grab' in history The wild card that might save Democrats in the midterms MORE." 

After meeting with a group of civil rights leaders, Manchin said he was unmoved but had a productive conversation about voting rights with them. 

"There was nothing basically for-or-against. ... Basically everyone's position was discussed," Manchin said after the meeting. 

While Democrats in Congress consider their next steps, Harrison said there is no time to be wasted on securing the right to vote ahead of the 2021 midterm elections. 

"People need to make a decision about where they are on this issue," Harrison said. "Because it's not a both sides. You're either for America, or you're against it."