Mr Manchin had opposed the original legislation and proposed elements of a bill he would support, prompting his negotiations with Ms Klobuchar and other Democratic senators: Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Tim Kaine from Virginia, Jon Tester from Montana, Alex Padilla from California and Raphael Warnock from Georgia. Senator Angus King, independent from Maine, also attended.
While Democrats applauded the new version, they also acknowledged that they were very unlikely to attract enough Republican support to break a filibuster against any ballot bill. With Democrats controlling 50 votes in the Senate, they would need 10 Republicans to join them in support of the legislation to meet the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome an obstruction, an extremely unlikely scenario. That means they should unite to force a change to the Senate rules governing filibuster if the law had a chance.
Republicans have blocked debate on a voting rights measure twice before, and most would be very reluctant to support a measure so fiercely opposed by Mr McConnell and his colleagues.
“There’s no right way to do the wrong thing,” said Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the rules commission’s top Republican. “And we think the wrong thing is to federalize the electoral process, which has been left to states and communities from the very beginning. “
Despite his support for the legislation, Manchin has repeatedly reiterated his refusal to abolish the filibuster, although he has also indicated his willingness to consider some changes. Arizona Democrat Senator Kyrsten Sinema also said she was unwilling to remove the filibuster.
The new proposal prompted progressive activists to immediately call on Democrats to move forward on voting rights and not let Senate rules or Mr McConnell get in the way.
“President Biden and Senate Democrats must now act quickly to combat filibuster and prevent Senator McConnell from abusing Senate rules to prevent this bill from getting a fair vote,” the group said. Anti-obstruction Fix Our Senate in a statement. .
Mr Manchin did not mention the filibuster in a statement strongly supporting the new proposal.
“The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy and the free vote law is a step in the right direction to protect this right for every American,” said Mr. Manchin. “As elected officials, we also have an obligation to restore people’s confidence in our democracy, and I think the common sense provisions of this bill – like the flexible voter identification requirements – will do exactly that. “
Luke broadwater contributed reports.