“Senate Dems agonize over voting rights strategy”


Senate Democrats made a major commitment to muscle through Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ethics and voting reform bill. Yet many say they have no idea how to pass it and wonder what exactly the end game is for a signature Democratic priority.

Democrats are preparing to kick off a sensitive internal debate over the issue this month as the Senate Rules Committee takesup the sprawling House package. But no Republicans support it, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) hasn’t signed on and at least a half-dozen Democrats have issues with the bill, according to senators and aides. That’s not to mention the constraints of the filibuster in a 50-50 Senate.

Though the bill has 49 co-sponsors, a Democratic source said a handful of Democrats still have some reservations. Not signing on, however, would risk public blowback from the left. And Manchin, the most-reluctant Democrat, wants to reimagine the bill’s focus.

He said “there’s a lot of good stuff” in the larger bill but said the party should concentrate on the voting rights standalone bill, named after the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).

The Congressional Black Caucus is considering such a strategy and Manchin advised Democrats to come up with “one piece of legislation that really basically has accessibility, security and fairness in it. And I think we can.” Warnock is making his own entreaties to Manchin and said his colleague knows “how urgent this is.”

Democratic leaders have continued heaping attention on the wider voting rights bill even as its prospects dim. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has repeatedly said “failure is not an option” on the package and wants to put the bill on the floor by August to give states time to implement it.

See my earlier WaPo opinion piece, H.R. 1 can’t pass the Senate. But here are some voting reforms that could.


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