Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her fellow Democrats’ slim majority in the House recently rammed a highly partisan voting rights bill known as H.R. 1 through the lower chamber. Deceptively titled “For the People Act,” the measure would essentially federalize elections and allow states to easily and quickly expand their voter rolls through a variety of provisions.
It was already a longshot to get the Pelosi-backed bill through Congress’ upper chamber — but progressives’ chances of ever seeing H.R. 1 become law were just shattered further by Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia who has made clear that he’s not on board, as the Washington Examiner reports.
In an interview with the local MetroNews radio program, Sen. Manchin revealed that he “would not be able to support” the voting measure — at least not in its current form, which is decidedly partisan and was passed without any GOP support.
“Every vote should be accessible, it should be secure, and it should be fair. That’s the responsibility we have, and [if] the states are subverting that, then we should put guard rails on it,” the senator said, signaling that he was open to some election reform ideas, but not the current proposal, the Examiner notes.
“On a partisan line”
Of course, Manchin’s remarks aren’t all that surprising, as he had already made it known that he had some serious reservations about many of the provisions within H.R. 1, to say nothing of the way Pelosi had shoved it through the House on a party-line vote.
In a recent interview with Vox, the senator said: “How in the world could you, with the tension we have right now, allow a voting bill to restructure the voting of America on a partisan line?”
The West Virginia lawmaker argued that, given the fact that a substantial portion of the electorate already distrusts the government and the electoral system, making one-sided changes will only “guarantee” further division and “anarchy.”
“I just believe with all my heart and soul that’s what would happen, and I’m not going to be part of it,” the senator opined.
“Some legitimate concerns”
Manchin’s comments echoed concerns he had raised with the bill in a statement issued late last month in which he had urged bipartisanship on the issue of election reform.
“There are some legitimate concerns about the implementation of the For the People Act, especially in rural areas,” Manchin said, according to the Washington Examiner. “As a former Secretary of State, I know, firsthand, the importance of local decision-making around voter accessibility and election security.”
Manchin also said that while “pushing through legislation of this magnitude on a partisan basis may garner short-term benefits,” it would “inevitably only exacerbate the distrust that millions of Americans harbor against the U.S. government.”
“We can and we must reform our federal elections together — not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans to restore the faith and trust in our democracy,” the senator declared. But only time will tell if he gets his wish.