Senate Republicans made it clear on Thursday that they oppose all Democratic ideas to overhaul the country’s voting systems, even those proposed by moderate Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.).
Their uncompromising stance against any federal election legislation underscores that there is very little chance of a bipartisan outcome on the issue, which Manchin insisted on.
Manchin Wednesday described the voting provisions he would support in the For the People Act, a broad set of voting rights, campaign finance, ethics and redistribution reforms. His list of “compromises” which is designed to unite Democrats more than anything includes items such as the expansion of early voting, mandatory automatic voter registration, polling day vacancy and other measures. intended to broaden access to the ballot. This does not include other broader things supported by his fellow Democrats, such as public funding for elections.
But if there was any chance to get Republicans on board with a narrower bill, those hopes were quickly dashed Thursday. Appearing at a press conference with a dozen other GOP senators, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Called Manchin’s ideas “no compromise.”
“All Republicans will oppose it as well,” he said of Manchin’s narrower list of electoral reforms.
In a statement released ahead of the press conference, McConnell said Manchin’s proposal “subverts the First Amendment aimed at overloading the cancellation culture and the left’s campaign model with name and shame.”
Republicans also quickly noted that former Democratic candidate for Georgia governor Stacey Abrams had endorsed Manchin’s list of voting changes, a way of dismissing the proposals as not truly bipartisan.
“When Stacey Abrams immediately approved Senator Manchin’s proposal, she became Stacey Abrams’ replacement, not Joe Manchin’s replacement,” said Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).
Republicans have now functionally killed Manchin’s two ideas about voting – passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, a narrow move that would restore the ability of the Department of Justice to oversee electoral law changes of the State, and its latest offer of “compromise” on the For the Law on the People.
But when asked about McConnell’s position on Thursday, Manchin didn’t seem downhearted.
“McConnell has the right to do whatever he thinks he can do. I hope there are enough good Republicans who understand that the foundation of our society is to have an accessible, fair and open election, ”Manchin said, repeating a version of something he said before. Republicans ultimately obstruct legislation to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol.
He expressed hope that the bipartisan relations forged in the Senate on other issues would ultimately help convince enough Republicans to support a vote bill.
“They’ll use those same connections and relationships when we get into difficult areas right now with the vote. I think they could reach out and help out a bit, ”Manchin said.
Manchin has repeatedly vowed to never support the elimination of Senate filibustering, which stands in the way of passing legislation on voting rights, gun control, immigration, climate. and a whole host of other priorities for Democrats. He has shown no willingness to bow on the issue even as Republicans have rejected his efforts to forge a bipartisan compromise.
The issue will come to a head next week when the Senate holds a first vote to officially open debate on a bill. Democratic leaders have not said what kinds of changes, if any, they would make to the For the People Act, but they are likely to look like what Manchin described this week. They will need his support to move anything forward on the floor, and he indicated on Thursday that he would vote to continue and at least start the debate on the issue.
“I think we all want to do this,” Manchin said.
Even if Democrats ultimately win out over Manchin, the bill will almost certainly be filibustered by Republicans.
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