Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said Thursday that Democrats’ election overhaul bill needs bipartisan support, a setback for the party as calls mount for Democrats to abolish the 60-vote filibuster in order to pass the bill.
Manchin, a key moderate vote for Democrats who has repeatedly promised he will not support abolishing the filibuster, expressed in a statement “legitimate concerns” with the “For the People Act,” a bill that includes sweeping election changes that passed the House as H.R. 1 this month, 220–210, with zero Republicans voting in favor of the measure.
“There are some legitimate concerns about the implementation of the For the People Act,” Manchin said. “As a former Secretary of State, I know, firsthand, the importance of local decision-making around voter accessibility and election security.”
Calling on both parties to find common ground on the bill, Manchin continued, “With that in mind, there are bipartisan proposals embedded in this bill that can strike the right balance. … Instead of arguing about the election reforms on which we disagree, Congress should be working together to enact those on which we can agree.”
No Republican senators have signaled support for S.1, the Senate version of the For the People Act, while Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) insisted the upper chamber — which is currently split 50–50 by party — “will pass” the bill:
Across the country, the Republicans seem to believe that the best strategy for winning elections is to try to prevent the other side from voting.
That’s not democracy.
The Senate will pass the #ForThePeople Act to fight this voter suppression and protect democracy for all.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) March 25, 2021
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has voiced firm opposition to the bill, saying at a Senate hearing Wednesday, “This is clearly an effort by one party to rewrite the rules of our political system, but even more immediately, it would create an implementation nightmare. … This legislation would forcibly rewrite the election laws of all 50 states from here in Washington.”
McConnell added the bill is “an invitation to chaos.”
The For the People Act, among its several provisions, wipes away current voter ID laws and scales back restrictions on voting by mail and voter registration — changes Democrats frame as a means of protecting Americans’ right to vote and that Republicans have widely condemned as an attempt to federalize election processes that should be handled at the state level.
Manchin in his statement on Thursday blamed such partisan divides for “America’s declining trust in the government.”
“That trust will continue to diminish unless we, as members of Congress, transcend partisanship,” Machin said, “to strengthen our democracy by protecting voting rights, implementing commonsense election security reforms, and making our campaign finance system more transparent.”
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