Fulfilling his reputation as the perennial spoiler of blatant Democrat Party power grabs, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has declared that he will not support the upper chamber’s version of the H.R. 1 election overhaul bill, in what represents a serious blow to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), an ardent champion of the legislation since its introduction.
Manchin made clear that he “would not be able to support” the massive election reform package, which the House passed in party-line fashion back in early March, as the Washington Examiner explained. At the time, Pelosi hyperbolically likened the process of pushing the legislation to the finish line in the lower chamber to “what it must have felt like at Valley Forge,” as Politico noted.
Without the West Virginia senator on board, however, the only viable avenues for the bill’s passage in the Senate involve Democrats persuading 10 Republicans to defect to their side – a highly unlikely proposition – or endeavoring to eliminate filibuster procedural rules, something Manchin opposes.
The senator has, however, gone to great lengths to emphasize that while he is not willing to back Pelosi’s far-reaching bill that would result in the creation of a nationwide, automatic voter registration process, permit felons to vote, and force states to facilitate no-excuse absentee voting, among numerous other highly controversial outcomes, he does support certain ideas contained within the legislation.
Manchin said, according to the Examiner, “Every vote should be accessible, it should be secure, and it should be fair. That’s the responsibility we have, and [if] the states are subverting that, then we should put guard rails on it.”
He has also expressed his opposition to passage of such sweeping legislation on the basis of a party-line vote, stating, “How in the world could you, with the tension we have right now, allow a voting bill to restructure the voting of America on a partisan line? I just believe with all my heart and soul that’s what would happen, and I’m not going to be a part of it.”
Many of the concerns voiced by Manchin have been amplified in much starker terms by Republicans, with Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) asserting in March that the law “won’t make our elections safer, instead it will give House Democrats an advantage in future elections by eliminating nearly every guardrail that preserves the sanctity of the ballot box today,” adding that “Pelosi is opening the floodgates for almost anyone to submit a ballot, or even multiple ballots, regardless of eligibility.”
GOP consultant and election law attorney Mark Weaver put things in even more dramatic terms, declaring, “H.R. 1 is an attempt to use the Democrats’ slim majority to unlevel the playing field and take away the rights of roughly half of the voters in the country.”
Though Sen. Manchin regularly shows himself to be a principled advocate for the interests of his Mountain State constituency, there can be no doubt that he also faces intense pressure from D.C. Democrats to fall in line. Whether he is able to hold fast to his beliefs and withhold support for this legislative monstrosity, only time will tell.