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AOC Rips Manchin’s ‘Older School Way’ Of Banking On Bipartisan Fantasies

Talking Points Memo logo Talking Points Memo 6/13/2021 Summer Concepcion
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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on Sunday doubled down on her criticism of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who opposes the sweeping voting rights reform legislation known as the For the People Act that his Democratic colleagues have been trying to push through Congress.

During an interview on CNN, Ocasio-Cortez was asked about the House-passed bill hitting snags in the Senate and Manchin’s vehement refusal to nixing the filibuster, which requires a 60-vote threshold that has stood in the way of Democrats’ efforts to pass legislation, in a 50-50 Senate. Last week, Ocasio-Cortez said that she is not sold on Manchin’s argument that the sweeping voting rights is “partisan.”

The New York lawmaker stood by her criticism of Manchin, while taking aim at the influence of lobbying in politics.

“I think that, when we talk about opposition to H.R.1 being just about voting rights, we aren’t telling the entire story,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “H.R.1 has sweeping lobbying reforms. And I believe that we have the influence of big money that impacts not just one party, but both parties in the United States Congress.”

Ocasio-Cortez argued that the “old way of politics” of lobbyists’ influence on lawmakers’ decisions is evident in Manchin’s thinking, and decried the centrist senator’s undying hopes for bipartisan compromise to push legislation through the 50-50 Senate.

“The things that he cites, like this, I think, romanticism of bipartisanship is about an era of Republicans that simply do not exist anymore,” Ocasio-Cortez said, before alluding to CNBC’s report last week on the pressure that the political advocacy group backed by billionaire Charles Koch puts on Manchin to oppose key parts of the Democratic agenda, such as filibuster reform and voting rights legislation.

“You have the Koch brothers and associated organizations from the Koch brothers really doing victory laps about Joe Manchin’s opposition to the filibuster,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

“I think that it’s pretty open that these groups exert a lot of influence as they can on members of Congress,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And I think that the older school way of accepting the role of lobbyists in Washington absolutely has a role in Joe Manchin’s thinking.”

In an op-ed published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail last week, Manchin declared his opposition to S.1, while reiterating his refusal to eliminate the filibuster that has presented roadblocks in moving Democrats’ agenda forward with its 60-vote threshold. Manchin, however, did reiterate his support for the less-comprehensive John Lewis Voting Rights Act (HR.4).

The White House has since signaled that the Biden administration hasn’t given up hopes of working with Manchin to push voting rights legislation through Congress, despite the centrist senator’s very public opposition to the sweeping “For the People Act.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Sunday echoed a similar sentiment, telling CNN that she feels optimistic that the West Virginia senator will change his mind on the sweeping voting rights bill, arguing that he “left the door open.”

Watch Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks below:

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