Politics Sen. Joe Manchin remains opposed to voting bill despite 'productive' meeting with civil rights leaders
Manchin's homegrown bipartisanship comes up against a changing world
When Joe Manchin was in the fight of his political life, vying for reelection in a state where being a Democrat had long been out of fashion, the senator's opening message to voters focused on the place he knew best: Farmington, West Virginia. © Maddie McGarvey for CNN Michael Angelucci, former state delegate, and Donna Costello, former mayor of Farmington.
WASHINGTON – After meeting with civil rights leaders on Capitol Hill Tuesday,said he remains opposed to a sweeping voting rights bill that advocates say is necessary to prevent voter suppression efforts in GOP-led states around the country.
Manchin described the one-hour meeting as "very productive and very informative" but said his mind had not changed after announcing in ahe would oppose the bill, known as the .
"No, I don't think anybody changed positions on that," he told reporters Tuesday after the closed-door meeting. "We're just learning where everybody's coming from. We're learning where everybody's position is."
The left hates Joe Manchin. His fellow Senate Dems are staying quiet.
Yet angst is quietly rising inside the Democratic caucus over his approach. “Of course I’m frustrated. Who isn’t frustrated?” one Democratic senator said.After all, the 50-vote Senate majority needs Manchin's vote to do just about anything. So not even its most progressive members seem to want to poke the bear.
In a 50-50 Senate that Democrats control only becauseis the tie-breaking vote, Manchin is a key lawmaker on almost every partisan issue, including voting rights. And his opposition to doing away with the Senate filibuster means the bill would need to get 60 votes to force a floor vote even if he ended up supporting the bill.
The measure would allow the federal government to implement a national standard election framework for states to follow and would allow the federal government to enforce civil rights protections and laws. The House passed a similar bill March 3.
Some Democrats wonder when Schumer will get tough with Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin's defiant statement that he will not vote for a sweeping election reform bill nor vote to get rid of the filibuster has progressive groups and some Democratic lawmakers wondering when Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will get tough with the West Virginia Democrat.Manchin is a member of Schumer's leadership team and Schumer has several points of leverage, including the power to replace him as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. But Schumer doesn't have a reputation for getting tough with colleagues. Instead, he keeps them close and hardly ever criticizes Democratic senators who cause him headaches.
, NAACP President Derrick Johnson, National Urban League President Marc H. Morial and Melanie L. Campbell, the president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, were among those who met with Manchin.
They shared their concerns and priorities related to voting and policing reform with Manchin, promoting not just the For the People Act, but also theand George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which seeks to punish law enforcement officers who abuse their authority.
In a statement, the group expressed that “the two voting rights bills are a top priority and essential to protect the freedom to vote. There continues to be an unprecedented partisan wave of state legislative proposals that are aimed at denying the right to vote – particularly for Black and Brown people."
Manchin's staunch opposition to ending filibuster may imperil Biden's agenda, including infrastructure
Manchin dashed hopes on the left that recent events might compel him to reconsider his support for keeping the Senate's 60-vote rule to pass bills.The moderate Democrat, in a Sunday op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, not only revealed his opposition to the Democratic-backed For the People Act but reiterated he won't vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster.
The push to pass the For The People Act comes as several Republican-controlled states, which opponents of the laws argue will make it harder for people to vote – especially people of color.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters Tuesday he was determined to bring the voting rights bill to the floor the week of June 21.
"We're going to put S1 on the floor," the New York Democrat said, referring to its legislative title. "As I said, we're open to changes and modifications as long as it does the job."
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters that Manchin is in the process of putting together a list of items in the voting rights bill that were acceptable and objectionable to him.
"That's what we're waiting on," he said.
, D-Ga., said he talked to Manchin over the weekend and continues to seek compromise to approve the voting-rights bill. Warnock, a minister, said the late Rep. John Lewis was a member of his church, but that using legislation named for him wouldn’t be enough to cover the protections for voting included in the For the People Act.
Joe Manchin said in 2011 that the US was 'paralyzed by the filibuster' but is now blocking efforts to change it
In a 2011 press release, Manchin said that senators wanting to halt bills should turn to "sustained debate" rather than the filibuster.Manchin is currently the only Democratic senator refusing to back the For the People Act, a sweeping voting-rights bill that would cancel many GOP-led voting restrictions at the state level. It passed the House with no Republican Party support, and its chances of passing the Senate have been destroyed due to Manchin's opposition.
“We’ve got to pass John Lewis in order to protect voting rights. We've got to pass the For the People Act to provide some basic standards for our elections,” Warnock told USA TODAY Tuesday.
He said voting rights have been curtailed for the last decade through long lines, polling places being moved at the last minute and voter names purged from the rolls.
“This is not theoretical stuff, this is people's actual ability to exercise their basic constitutional rights,” Warnock said. “Voting is not a privilege, it’s a right.”
Manchin said the discussion included his concerns about protecting voting rights and the fragility of the democracy. But he said they didn't take positions for or against the John Lewis legislation, for example.
“There was nothing basically for or against,” Manchin said. “It’ basically everyone’s position was discussed. It was an excellent meeting.”
Manchin said conversations will continue with participants in the meeting.
New Jersey Democratic, who is African American, said he doesn't think Manchin's mind is made up.
"I definitely don't, especially after the conversations he's been having with a lot of my colleagues in terms of what the possibilities are for pushing back on some of the most oppressive of voter suppression and restriction laws since Jim Crow."
Manchin cited the lack of Republican support and bipartisanship as the reason for opposing the legislation, stating that voting and election reform “done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen,” Manchin said in an op-ed for the Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette-Mail.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
McConnell Has Just One Play Against Joe Manchin’s Voting Rights Compromise .
The question is if the trick will keep working.It’s not that complicated, even if it has been amazingly successful. But it’s also something that hasn’t really been tested, and that is the part that could be about to change. On Wednesday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) announced that he could be convinced to vote on Congressional Democrats’ top priorities on voting rights, something he’s previously resisted, and he even offered a list of specific elements he wants to see as part of a compromise on the sprawling “For the People Act,” or S1.