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Manchin breaking with Democrats on voting rights

The Hill logo The Hill 5/13/2021 Marina Pitofsky
Joe Manchin wearing a suit and tie: Manchin breaking with Democrats on voting rights © Getty Manchin breaking with Democrats on voting rights

Sen. Joe Manchin said that he is backing a narrower piece of voting rights legislation that he believes could garner bipartisan support, breaking with Democrats on the party's sweeping voting rights efforts.

The West Virginia Democrat told ABC News this week that he intends to support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which he hopes could "start getting confidence back in our system."

"I believe Democrats and Republicans feel very strongly about protecting the ballot boxes allowing people to protect the right to vote, making it accessible, making it fair and making it secure, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, if we apply that to all 50 states and territories, it's something that can be done - it should be done," Manchin told the network.

"It could be done bipartisan to start getting confidence back in our system," he added.


Video: Manchin remains quiet on Democrats’ voting bill (MSNBC)

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Senators this week held an hours-long, dramatic markup of the Democratic-led For the People Act. Democrats are set to meet Thursday to talk about the 800-page measure, which would set national standards that aim to expand access to voting. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has vowed to bring the legislation to the floor of the Senate.

Manchin told ABC News, however, that the markup showed him that the bill could not garner the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate and go to President Biden's desk to be signed into law.

"No matter what was brought up it was partisan vote, 9-9," Manchin said, referencing the Senate Rules Committee's even split on the legislation. "This is one of the most - I think - important things that we can do to try to bring our country back together and if we do it in a partisan way, it's not going to be successful, I believe."

The John Lewis Voting Rights Act reestablishes key measures from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that the Supreme Court overturned in 2013.

Manchin told ABC News that he has spoken to Republican colleagues and sees a path for the more-targeted legislation, vowing that he would not bring the bill to the Senate floor unless it could gain bipartisan support.

The West Virginia lawmaker has previously said that he would not back nixing the 60-vote threshold in the Senate to advance legislation known as the filibuster. He has also said he would not support the use of reconciliation, a procedural move that would allow the Senate to bypass the 60-vote threshold, to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

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