West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said he would oppose the Democrats’ massive voting rights bill, instead pushing for a smaller package that he thinks could win over Republicans despite their opposition, ABC News reports.
Manchin told the outlet that he would oppose the For The People Act, a sweeping bill that codifies voter protections federally and includes numerous measures addressing election administration and money in politics. But he said he would support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, a more narrow bill that aims to restore protections gutted by the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision that ended a requirement for states with a history of racial discrimination to pre-clear any electoral changes with the Justice Department.
"I believe Democrats and Republicans feel very strongly about protecting the ballot boxes allowing people to protect the right to vote making it accessible making it fair and making it secure and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, if we apply that to all 50 states and territories, it's something that can be done -- it should be done," Manchin told ABC News. "It could be done bipartisan to start getting confidence back in our system."
It’s unlikely Democrats can win over 10 Republicans to back either bill. Republicans have universally ruled out supporting the For the People Act, which includes measures like automatic voter registration and reforms of gerrymandering and campaign finance laws.
Manchin’s statement came after a contentious markup hearing in the Senate Rules Committee where lawmakers deadlocked down party lines repeatedly.
"No matter what was brought up it was partisan vote, 9-9," Manchin said. "This is one of the most -- I think -- important things that we can do to try to bring our country back together and if we do it in a partisan way, it's not going to be successful I believe."
No Republicans support Voting Rights Act:
There have been no Republicans in the Senate that have signaled they would support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act despite Manchin’s claim.
But Manchin told ABC News that he’s “spoken to GOP colleagues and he sees a path forward.”
Manchin again ruled out changing the filibuster rule to allow Democrats to pass the voting bills down party lines.
"If you do it for one time you basically destroy the Senate as we know it," Manchin said.