Sen. Joe Manchin is breaking with Democrats and throwing his weight behind a more measured voting rights bill in lieu of the sweeping Democratic voting reform bill that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has labeled a top priority of the caucus.
The Democrat from West Virginia told ABC News exclusively that he intends to support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, a more narrowly tailored piece of voting rights legislation that he said he believes could muster bipartisan support even as voting legislation is becoming a flash point between the two parties.
“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 congressional correspondent Rachel Scott. “It could be done bipartisan to start getting confidence back in our system.”…
Manchin said Tuesday’s mark-up made clear to him that the robust Democratic bill, which he has already said he does not support, has no hope of mustering the necessary 60 votes to pass.
“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.”…
He’s so committed to working in a bipartisan way that he’s vowed not to use other measures that would allow the Senate to pass the legislation with a simple majority.
For example, Manchin said he won’t support the use of reconciliation, a procedural tool that allows the Senate to bypass the usual 60-vote threshold necessary to pass legislation, to move the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
He also won’t support a one-time change to the Senate filibuster rule, despite pleas from some advocates.
“If you do it for one time you basically destroy the Senate as we know it,” Manchin said.