Activists are calling on Senate Democrats to kill the filibuster to enact once-in-a-generation voting rights legislation. But Joe Manchin wants his party to step away from the edge.
In a lengthy statement on Thursday, Manchin urged fellow Democrats to take a bipartisan approach rather than try and jam through a massive reform package on party lines.
And because the West Virginia senator is Democrats’ 50th vote in the chamber, they may have no choice but to listen to him.
“Pushing through legislation of this magnitude on a partisan basis may garner short-term benefits, but will inevitably only exacerbate the distrust that millions of Americans harbor against the U.S. government,” Manchin said.
Manchin has declined to co-sponsor the House and Senate versions of the far-reaching voting rights measure that Democratic leaders are championing — amid pressure to force it through by axing the filibuster. That’s because, Manchin said, he thinks his party, which controls all of Washington for the first time in a decade, should start with bipartisan proposals and work from there “instead of arguing about the election reforms on which we disagree.“
Specifically, Manchin called for cross-aisle collaboration on election security, campaign finance transparency and voter accessibility.
“The notion of restricting voting to a single 8 or 12-hour time frame is not indicative of how most voters live," Manchin said in his statement. "Expanding voter access to the polls by requiring at least fifteen days, including two weekend days, of early voting in every state will increase turnout and help individuals, especially those who have traditionally not been able to participate, cast their votes.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Scuhmer has promised a vote soon on the voting rights bill, which many progressives believe is the match that should spark the demise of the chamber’s 60-vote threshold for most bills. Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) say they are hard no votes on getting rid of the filibuster, but Republicans are egging on the clash by arguing that there is no common ground on voting rights.
Republicans say they have little desire to engage because they fundamentally don’t believe Congress should tell states how to run elections.
But Manchin responded that the Senate needs to give it a try anyway: “America’s declining trust in the government and each other makes it harder to solve key problems. That trust will continue to diminish unless we, as members of Congress, transcend partisanship.”
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