Manchin Refuses to Back Dem 'Voting Rights' Bill Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., (Leigh Vogel-Pool/Getty Images)
By Eric Mack | Sunday, 06 June 2021 08:58 AM
In news that deals a potentially lethal blow to Democrats' For the People Act, moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., says he will not vote for a bill that delivers a "partisan advantage" in elections.
"Of course, some in my party have argued that now is the time to discard such bipartisan voting reforms and embrace election reforms and policies solely supported by one party," Manchin wrote in Sunday in the Charleston Gazette-Mail. "Respectfully, I do not agree.
"I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act."
With the Senate split 50-50 with Republicans, Manchin's decision sinks Democrats' hopes of forcing the voting reform bill through the Senate by doing away with the filibuster that requires 60 votes and Republican support.
"This more than 800-page bill has garnered zero Republican support," Manchin wrote. "Why? Are the very Republican senators who voted to impeach Trump because of actions that led to an attack on our democracy unwilling to support actions to strengthen our democracy? Are these same senators, whom many in my party applauded for their courage, now threats to the very democracy we seek to protect?
"The truth, I would argue, is that voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen."
The Senate filibuster must remain, Manchin argued.
"With that in mind, some Democrats have again proposed eliminating the Senate filibuster rule in order to pass the For the People Act with only Democratic support. They've attempted to demonize the filibuster and conveniently ignore how it has been critical to protecting the rights of Democrats in the past.
"Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster."
Manchin admits the filibuster does stall Congress from passing legislation, but he maintains stalling partisan legislation is the right thing to do for Americans.
"It has been said by much wiser people than me that absolute power corrupts absolutely," Manchin wrote. "Well, what I've seen during my time in Washington is that every party in power will always want to exercise absolute power, absolutely. Our founders were wise to see the temptation of absolute power and built in specific checks and balances to force compromise that serves to preserve our fragile democracy.
"The Senate, its processes and rules, have evolved over time to make absolute power difficult while still delivering solutions to the issues facing our country and I believe that's the Senate's best quality."
Manchin was called out by President Joe Biden in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last week for not voting with Democrats, but Manchin did not return a swipe, just a warning.
"Today's debate about how to best protect our right to vote and to hold elections, however, is not about finding common ground, but seeking partisan advantage," Manchin lamented, adding, "partisan policymaking won't instill confidence in our democracy — it will destroy it."