Progressive Democrats advocating for U.S. election reform have encountered a serious roadblock in the form of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has now joined a chorus of leftist voices protesting Manchin’s announcement that he will not support the “For the People Act” — but he is not budging.
“It will not be ready until the fall”
In a statement on Tuesday, Pelosi called on Manchin to reconsider his position and decried the alleged “assault on our democracy” being undertaken by Republican lawmakers.
As the name implies, the For the People Act — formally known as HR1 — is Pelosi’s top priority. Although Manchin said he would support the competing John Lewis Voting Rights Act — or HR4 — the House speaker made it clear that she does not believe that is good enough.
“HR4 must be passed, but it will not be ready until the fall, and it is not a substitute for HR1,” Pelosi asserted in a letter to congressional Democrats. “Congressman John Lewis wrote 300 pages of HR1 to end voter suppression. HR1/S1 must be passed now.”
For their part, Republicans are largely united in their opposition to the For the People Act, with many referring it to a blatant power grab by Democrats.
Manchin is apparently siding with the GOP, calling it hopelessly “partisan” in a recent op-ed.
“Ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen”
“Voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen,” the West Virginia Democrat wrote.
With an evenly divided Senate, a moderate like Manchin holds outsized leverage compared to his more polarized colleagues. Democrats are concerned that he will ruin their plans to push through a liberal agenda, particularly since he has criticized plans to abolish the Senate filibuster that would allow them to pass bills with a simple majority vote.
“I don’t think anybody changed positions,” Manchin declared after the recent meeting.
As a result, University of California-Irvine law professor Rick Hasen recently echoed a growing opinion, insisting: “I think it’s likely Congress doesn’t do anything.”