Hundreds in West Virginia protest Manchin's opposition to voting rights legislation

The Poor People’s Campaign (PPC) marched on Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSchumer: 'Goal' is to pass Biden spending bill before Christmas The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to update Americans on omicron; Congress back This week: Congress starts year-end legislative sprint MORE’s (D-W.Va.) local congressional office in Charleston on Monday, urging the moderate senator to reverse his position on voting rights, a $15 minimum wage and President BidenJoe BidenDearborn office of Rep. Debbie Dingell vandalized Pfizer to apply for COVID-19 booster approval for 16- and 17-year-olds: report Coronavirus variant raises fresh concerns for economy MORE’s infrastructure plan.

“There is no such thing as being moderate when it comes to protecting voting rights and lifting the poor and lifting low wealth people and providing health care, and providing living wages,” the Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the PPC, said to the crowd of more than 300 people.

“Which side are you on, Joe Manchin?” Barber continued.

ADVERTISEMENT

According to 2019 census data, West Virginia has one of the highest rates of poverty in the country, at 16 percent.

Since Biden took office in January, Manchin has increasingly become a roadblock to his party’s legislative agenda.

The West Virginia senator balked at including raising the federal minimum wage to $15 in Biden’s pandemic relief package and has said that he doesn’t support the For the People Act, a sweeping reform bill that would mandate expanded voting rights nationwide, among other things.

Manchin has also signaled his uneasiness over the combined $4 trillion price tag of Biden’s American Families Plan and infrastructure proposal.

Perhaps more notable — and more frustrating for progressives — is Manchin’s defense of the Senate filibuster, the largest obstacle to Democrats’ agenda.

The procedural rule requires 60 “yes” votes for debate on a bill to end and a floor vote to proceed.

ADVERTISEMENT

Many Democrats have called for the end of the filibuster, which would allow the party to lean on Vice President Harris’s vote to pass legislation. 

But, Manchin, along with fellow moderate Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaSchumer: 'Goal' is to pass Biden spending bill before Christmas No deal in sight as Congress nears debt limit deadline Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills MORE (D-Ariz.), is opposed to axing the filibuster. 

Manchin does back the John LewisJohn LewisDemocratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills With extreme gerrymanders locking in, Biden needs to make democracy preservation job one Obama, Dave Chappelle nominated in same Grammy category MORE Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would put in place a new formula for the federal preclearance that was in the original Voting Rights Act. But he does not support ending the filibuster to pass that legislation.

The preclearance required states and jurisdictions with track records of racial voting discrimination to get any change to voting procedures approved by the Justice Department, but the formula was ruled outdated and thus unconstitutional in a landmark 2013 Supreme Court decision.

Manchin and Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiCongress should reject H.R. 1619's dangerous anywhere, any place casino precedent Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks MORE (R-Alaska) issued a joint statement in mid-May that stressed bipartisan support for reauthorizing the preclearance, but the bill is unlikely to receive a sufficient amount of Republican votes to clear the filibuster.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Manchin said that the senator was in Washington for the Senate’s current session, but that staffers were at the march “to listen to these important voices and relay their concerns to him.” 

However, Barber was less than impressed with Manchin’s proxies.

“Stop hijacking this,” Barber appeared to say to two staffers holding comment cards.

“If you want to do something, get the senator out here.”