Joe Manchin effectively kills Democrats' hopes of passing voter protections with For the People Act

Washington DC – Supporters of the For the People Act to combat voter suppression now have a confirmed opponent in Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia has announced his opposition to the For the People Act as well as ending the filibuster.
Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia has announced his opposition to the For the People Act as well as ending the filibuster.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Manchin has announced that he does not support the For the People Act, which aims to end partisan gerrymandering, institute a national voter registration system, and limit the influence of big money in politics, among other provisions.

The measures are an effort to curb widespread voter suppression, particularly in Republican-led states, which has a disproportionate impact on people of color.

The senator also said he would not support ending the filibuster, making it a lot more difficult for many other Biden Administration policies to pass in the upper chamber, including in the areas of immigration reform, affordable health care, and climate action, the New York Times reported.

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Manchin explained his reasoning in an op-ed for the Charleston Gazette-Mail: "The right to vote is fundamental to our American democracy and protecting that right should not be about party or politics. Least of all, protecting this right, which is a value I share, should never be done in a partisan manner."

"I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster," he continued.

Manchin wants to pursue other avenues with more bipartisan support

Manchin did say he supports the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Manchin did say he supports the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

With Manchin's opposition, passing the For the People Act, which has wide popular support, seems nearly impossible.

Manchin did say he would support John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which he says has received more bipartisan support. The bill requires that states receive federal approval before redrawing districts. These protections were previously legal requirements under the 1965 Voting Rights Act before the 2013 Shelby v. Montgomery Supreme Court decision struck them down.

The federal oversight measures were initially put in place to protect voters of color from discriminatory voting rules and electoral map-drawing practices. Sure enough, when the protections were lifted, many Southern states took the opportunity to change their voting rules, which has had a significant direct, negative impact on turnout among racial minorities, a Harvard study shows.

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Though Manchin emphasized the John Lewis bill's potential to gain stronger bipartisan support, there are still not enough votes in the Senate to overcome a possible filibuster.

Manchin's announcement came after Joe Biden called out several Senate Democrats for siding too often with Republicans during his speech in Tulsa on the 100th anniversary of the city's infamous race massacre.

Though he did not name names, it was widely recognized the president was referring to Manchin as well as Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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