West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski issued a bipartisan call for Congress to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, NBC News reports.
"Protecting Americans’ access to democracy has not been a partisan issue for the past 56 years, and we must not allow it to become one now," the two senators said in a letter to congressional leaders on Monday.
"Inaction is not an option. Congress must come together — just as we have done time and again — to reaffirm our longstanding bipartisan commitment to free, accessible, and secure elections for all," they said. "We urge you to join us in calling for the bipartisan reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act through regular order. We can do this. We must do this."
While Democrats support reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act, there has been little Republican support. Only retiring Missouri Sen. Roy Blount has said he may support bipartisan negotiations.
Voting bill hopes fading:
The statement came after Manchin became the lone Democrat to oppose the For the People Act, a sweeping election reform bill that stands little chance of passing amid near-unanimous Republican opposition.
Manchin has said he would support the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act after the Supreme Court gutted a section of the Voting Rights Act that required states with histories of racial discrimination to pre-clear any electoral changes with the federal government.
The bill would restore the pre-clearance requirement, though it is unclear how the states covered by the requirement would be selected. Some lawmakers have suggested requiring all states to pre-clear any electoral changes with the Justice Department.
Republicans push voter restrictions:
Manchin has repeatedly called for a bipartisan process to protect voting rights but the plan has received little bipartisan support as Republicans go a completely different way.
Pressed by angry voters who believed Trump’s false claims about nonexistent election fraud, Republican lawmakers have introduced more than 350 bills in at least 47 states to restrict voting access.
Five bills have already been signed into law, including in Georgia and Florida.
Texas is expected to join them before their legislative session ends.