The Democrats’ massive election overhaul bill, the so-called For the People Act, appears to be dead in the water.
Although the legislation passed in the Democratic-controlled House, it still needs to pass the evenly-split Senate to make it to President Joe Biden’s desk. On Sunday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he will not vote for the bill, all but dooming the legislation’s chance of passing, Breitbart reported.
“I think it’s the wrong piece of legislation to bring our country together and unite our country and I’m not supporting that because I think it would divide us further,” the West Virginia senator told Fox News Sunday. “I don’t want to be in a country that’s divided any further than I’m in right now.”
“I can’t vote for it”
In a Sunday op-ed for West Virginia’s Charleston Gazette-Mail, Manchin explained his decision to vote against the voting reform bill in more detail.
“Do we really want to live in an America where one party can dictate and demand everything and anything it wants, whenever it wants?” Manchin wrote.
“I have always said, ‘If I can’t go home and explain it, I can’t vote for it,'” the senator continued. “And I cannot explain strictly partisan election reform or blowing up the Senate rules to expedite one party’s agenda.
Manchin further warned: “Congressional action on federal voting rights legislation must be the result of both Democrats and Republicans coming together to find a pathway forward or we risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials.”
Keeping the filibuster
Given the current 50–50 divide in the Senate chamber, with the tie-breaking 51st vote being that of Vice President Kamala Harris, Manchin is one of the most powerful votes.
Democrats cannot afford defections, especially when they’re seeking to pass more radical pieces of legislation that don’t have any Republican support.
Besides the voting reform bill, Manchin has also said he will continue to oppose any efforts to end the Senate filibuster.
“[S]ome Democrats have again proposed eliminating the Senate filibuster rule in order to pass the For the People Act with only Democratic support,” Manchin wrote Sunday. “They’ve attempted to demonize the filibuster and conveniently ignore how it has been critical to protecting the rights of Democrats in the past.”
If Manchin remains firm in this, it could mean some of President Joe Biden’s other plans are also upended, including his multitrillion-dollar infrastructure proposal.