In an op-ed published Sunday that can only be seen as a crippling blow to one of President Biden’s most ambitious legislative goals, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin declared he will not support the For The People Act as well as reiterated his opposition to getting rid of the Senate filibuster.
In explaining his reasons for voting against the voting rights bill, the moderate senator said this:
But in the paragraph immediately preceding that statement, Manchin decried the partisan state laws being passed or being considered by GOP-led state legislatures in states such as Georgia, Texas and Florida.
“Whether it is state laws that seek to needlessly restrict voting or politicians who ignore the need to secure our elections, partisan policymaking won’t instill confidence in our democracy — it will destroy it.”
Critics immediately pounced, noting that Manchin’s position seems to be wildly illogical.
The sweeping voting rights legislation, a centerpiece of the White House’s agenda, is now virtually assured of not passing. There was no Republican support already for the bill, and with Manchin publicly opposing it, it appears dead in the water. The only avenue open now to get it passed would be to use the method known as reconciliation to pass it via a simple majority instead of a 60-vote super majority. However, in the same editorial for the Charlotte Gazette, Manchin once again declared he will not vote to weaken or get rid of the Senate filibuster.
Manchin’s stance opposing any workaround to the filibuster jeopardizes many of Biden’s priorities, such as his massive infrastructure bill, since Republicans are overwhelmingly united in opposing the White House’s legislative agenda. The senator argued, as he has before, that Democrats would be smart to remember that Harry Reid’s decision to remove the 60-vote standard for presidential nominees other than the Supreme Court opened the day for Republicans to eventually install a conservative majority on the court.
With regards to voting rights, Manchin in his editorial urged Senate leadership to update and pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. That’s a much more narrow elections bill that has the support of at least one Republican, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. It brings back major pieces of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, including a provision that requires states to consult with the federal government before making major changes to their voting rules.
Still, his decision to plant his flag in support of a bipartisan approach at a time when Republicans seem to have little interest in such cooperation is proving frustrating, to the say the least, to many.