Democratic leaders and activists are urgently stepping up pressure on Sen. Joe Manchin III to support legislation to fight Republican-led voting restrictions across the country, with party officials increasingly concluding that the battle over voting rights could come down to what the centrist Democrat from West Virginia does.
In a rare show of public frustration with his own party on Tuesday, President Biden appeared to lash out at Manchin when he accused a pair of unnamed senators of aligning too closely with Republicans and stalling efforts to pass sweeping voting standards.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) recently announced that his chamber would vote this month on a House-passed elections bill co-sponsored by every Democratic senator except Manchin — a move that would force Manchin to pick a side in a fight that has taken on new urgency in recent weeks.
Even some of Manchin’s Democratic colleagues are beginning to prod him more aggressively to join their cause, while activists and civil rights leaders are loudly decrying his hesitation.
“That is a problem with the Democratic Party. What you see with Republicans — they stick together no matter what,” said the Rev. William J. Barber II, a civil rights leader who attended the Tuesday speech in Tulsa where Biden appeared to criticize Manchin. “They need to let Manchin understand we elected Joe Biden — not Joe Manchin — to be president.”