It might be time to call the Democrats’ election overhaul bill “H.R. Done” instead of “H.R. 1” now that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has said he will not support it.
In a tied Senate where Democrats need all 50 of their party’s senators to vote the party’s way, Manchin’s actions make it unlikely that even using procedural gimmicks can save the proposal, which passed the Democrat-controlled House 220-210.
The bill requires states to offer mail-in ballots, at least 15 days of early voting and same-day voter registration. The bill also would put independent commissions in charge of drawing district lines, according to The Hill.
“The right to vote is fundamental to our American democracy and protecting that right should not be about party or politics. Least of all, protecting this right, which is a value I share, should never be done in a partisan manner,” he wrote.
“Today’s debate about how to best protect our right to vote and to hold elections, however, is not about finding common ground, but seeking partisan advantage,” he wrote, adding that “partisan policymaking won’t instill confidence in our democracy — it will destroy it.”
“As such, congressional action on federal voting rights legislation must be the result of both Democrats and Republicans coming together to find a pathway forward or we risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials,” he wrote, noting that not one Republican has supported the bill Democrats have dubbed the “For the People Act.”
Manchin said he will not kill off the Senate’s filibuster to pass a partisan election bill.
He wrote that “some Democrats have again proposed eliminating the Senate filibuster rule in order to pass the For the People Act with only Democratic support. They’ve attempted to demonize the filibuster and conveniently ignore how it has been critical to protecting the rights of Democrats in the past.”
“It has been said by much wiser people than me that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Well, what I’ve seen during my time in Washington is that every party in power will always want to exercise absolute power, absolutely. Our founders were wise to see the temptation of absolute power and built in specific checks and balances to force compromise that serves to preserve our fragile democracy. The Senate, its processes and rules, have evolved over time to make absolute power difficult while still delivering solutions to the issues facing our country and I believe that’s the Senate’s best quality,” he wrote.
After noting his support for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which has some GOP support, Manchin wrote, “some in my party have argued that now is the time to discard such bipartisan voting reforms and embrace election reforms and policies solely supported by one party. Respectfully, I do not agree.”
“I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act,” he wrote.
Handing Democrats a firm rejection of their efforts to use their current ability to ram home legislation that requires a simple majority vote, he added, “Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster.”
“American democracy is something special, it is bigger than one party, or the tweet-filled partisan attack politics of the moment. It is my sincere hope that all of us, especially those who are privileged to serve, remember our responsibility to do more to unite this country before it is too late,” Manchin wrote.
Liberals on Twitter erupted after Manchin took his stand.
.@Sen_JoeManchin calls HR1 “partisan voting legislation,” but he doesn’t have similar words for the bigoted and entirely partisan voter suppression legislation in Georgia or any of the Jim Crow bills in the states. Why do you suppose that is? Hint: This is coded language.
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) June 6, 2021
Maybe people can start recognizing that Joe Manchin isn’t acting in good faith, that he has no interest in changing anything, and isn’t going to wake up one morning and decide to do the right thing.
He is who we knew he was.
— Jared Yates Sexton (@JYSexton) June 6, 2021
These arguments are completely disingenuous and I suspect Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) knows that. His op-ed would have been shorter had he just said he favors the voting restrictions Republicans are imposing across the country. Hiding behind John Lewis’ legacy is just gross. https://t.co/bd6A9NZWlJ
— Joy-Ann (Pro-Democracy) Reid 😷 (@JoyAnnReid) June 6, 2021
Manchin re-stated his opposition to the bill during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”
“It’s the wrong piece of legislation to bring our country together and unite our country, and I’m not supporting that because I think it would divide us more. I don’t want to be in a country that’s divided any further,” Manchin said, according to Fox News.
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