Democrats try to pressure Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinDemocrats try to pin Manchin on voting rights OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO under the spell of ransomware attack | Texas government signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm On The Money: Biden Ends Infrastructure Talks With Capito, Hinges To A Bipartisan Group | Some US Billionaires Had Years When They Didn’t Pay Taxes: Report | IRS to investigate leakage MORE (DW.Va.) as they seek clarification on what he wants in voting rights and electoral law.
Manchin sparked widespread fear this week by addressing his opposition to the For the People Act, a sweeping bill that would overhaul federal elections. Democrats now pledge to increase pressure on key moderates.
At the same time, Democrats have been careful not to publicly criticize Manchin, which they say would backfire. Instead, they have behind-the-scenes conversations with him and publicly question what specific changes he would like and how he thinks the voting rights bill could get 60 votes, the amount it would take to avoid a GOP filibuster.
“Several of us have met and spoken to him even today,” said Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDemocrats try to pin Manchin on voting rights Democratic division threatens Biden’s vote Democrats fight high-profile battle over military assault MORE (D-Va.).
Democrats are also urging Manchin to state in the For the People Act which provisions he supports and which he does not, in hopes that a detailed list this week could shed some light on a way forward.
“Joe Manchin said he would send us a list of things that were acceptable and objectionable in S.1,” Durbin said, referring to the bill’s account number.
Democrats met behind closed doors on Tuesday to discuss the party’s voting rights, infrastructure and June agenda. Durbin said they had an “honest and candid” talk about the For the People Act.
“There are a lot of strong feelings about that bill,” he told reporters.
But Manchin was not at the closed-door luncheon, the first caucus meeting since his Sunday op-ed announcing his opposition to the voting rights bill. A spokesperson told The Hill he was having a “conflicting meeting”.
It is the second meeting where the For the People Act has been discussed without Manchin. Democrats convened their first caucus meeting in mid-May, but Manchin was in West Virginia traveling with first lady Jill BidenJill BidenDemocrats try to pin Manchin on voting rights The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Biden, Harris take US targets abroad Fauci, Jill Biden visit New York vaccine site MORE.
He attended a caucus meeting in late May, but Democrats noted at the time that he did not speak at the meeting.
That left his fellow Democrats trying to figure out exactly what he wants, and how to get him on board ahead of a vote on the House passed bill slated for the week of June 21.
sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDemocrats try to pin Manchin on voting rights The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – Senate to release January 6 report Some Democrats Wonder When Schumer Will Get Hard With Manchin MORE (D-Minn.) said there have been staff-level discussions, but “we’ll have to see what he wants.”
“You know, our manager’s amendment contained a lot of changes that actually affected the West Virginia Secretary of State, and concerns specifically related to West Virginia. … That’s the beginning of the discussion,” Klobuchar said, referring to the version of the bill that stalled in the Senate committee last month.
This isn’t the first time Manchin has had his caucus guessing. He stopped President BidenJoe BidenHouse Judiciary Democrats Call on DOJ to Reverse Trump Defense Decision Democratic super PAC targets Youngkin for voting rights Harris calls first foreign trip a success amid criticism across the border MORE‘s coronavirus relief bill for hours in March as he negotiated last-minute changes to unemployment language. No Republican ultimately voted for the US $1.9 trillion bailout.
This time, advocates like the Progressive Change Campaign Committee are urging their supporters to plead with Manchin that the For the People Act is two-pronged.
“We know that this bipartisan argument can work. It’s exactly what President Biden said before Manchin turned himself back on the US bailout plan,” they wrote in an email.
The For the People Act aims to expand access to ballot papers while also reviewing campaign finance rules, changing the composition of the Federal Electoral Commission, imposing new ethical rules on officials and establishing new requirements for the reclassification of the congress.
Democrats view voting legislation as existential as GOP-controlled lawmakers across the country introduce, debate and pass bills that in many cases restrict access to vote. But they are willing to make changes to the bill as they try to figure out how to convince Manchin.
“We will vote on voting rights legislation, bold legislation, S. 1, in the last week of June. Is it possible that we change a few things here and there? … We have had discussions with Senator Manchin and they are continuing,” Senate Majority Leader said Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden talks Schumer reconciliation as infrastructure negotiations falter Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republicans White House: Biden considers Manchin friend despite latest policy breach MORE (DN.Y.), who has been in talks with Manchin.
A Senate Democratic aide added that there was widespread interest within the Manchin caucus, explaining how he would get Republican support and specifying what specific changes he would like to make to the bill.
Manchin declined to say whether he would vote against, even if the For the People Act came up for discussion.
Voting for the procedural hurdle bill, even if it doesn’t support the underlying legislation, could allow Democrats to claim a symbolic victory from a unified caucus, even if it doesn’t get the 60 votes it needs to pass. to go.
“The problem is, we’re trying to get to a place where we have all 50 Democrats on board,” Kaine said, adding that Manchin has not indicated that he would vote against a motion to continue the floor debate on the bill.
Manchin met with civil rights leaders on Tuesday as they tried to convince him of the electoral law. He described himself as in listening mode and called the conversation “constructive,” but gave no indication that he had been influenced by the bill.
“I don’t think anyone has changed their mind on that,” he said.
Instead, he urges his caucus to focus their efforts on HR 4, legislation named after the late Rep. John LewisJohn LewisDemocrats try to pin Manchin on voting rights McConnell: John Lewis voting rights law ‘unnecessary’ Stacey Abrams calls on young voters of color to support the electoral reform bill MORE (D-Ga.) to strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A Supreme Court decision in 2013 overturned the decades-old law by establishing a formula for determining whether state and local governments should obtain pre-approval from the Department of Justice for voting and election changes.
But the Democrats warn that they don’t think this goes far enough because it wouldn’t curtail the voting laws some states have already enacted, and the For the People Act goes way beyond the voting law mentioned by Lewis.
“HR 4 must be passed,” Speaker Nancy PelosicNancy PelosicDemocrats try to pin Manchin on voting rights The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – Senate to release January 6 report Manchin unmoved after ‘constructive’ meeting with civil rights groups MORE (D-Calif.) said, referring to Lewis’s bill, “but it won’t be ready until the fall and it’s not a replacement for” the For the People Act.
There is widespread belief in the caucus that 10 Republicans will not support the sweeping election bill, raising questions about how Manchin plans to get 60 votes.
“I think it’s pretty much impossible,” Kaine said. “But our job is pretty simple: Let’s go to a place where all 50 Democrats are comfortable with what the voting rights package is.”