As hopes for federal voting rights legislation dim, civil rights figures including Rev. Al Sharpton and Marc Morial met with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. in Washington Tuesday to discuss the voting bill and the legislative agenda. The meeting Tuesday failed to move the Senator’s opposition to the Democratic voting rights bill.
Over the weekend, Manchin announced his opposition to the For the People Act, instead pushing for the more narrow voting rights bill named after the late Rep. John Lewis. That proposal also has little chance of getting support from the 10 Republicans needed to pass.
Manchin also opposes eliminating the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to advance most legislation. As many as 10 Republicans would need to cross party lines to help Democrats achieve their priorities. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. has also said she will not support ending the filibuster.
Many Democratic lawmakers are expressing their frustration with Republican blockades and fractions within the party and say the time has come for the president to act boldly to advance the agenda or risk losing voters in the long run.
“There’s a lot of anxiety,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Ca. “It’s a question really for President Biden: What kind of president does he want to be?”
Some Democratic groups are planning to take a more direct approach by running a $30 million television ad campaign in the home states of Manchin and Sinema, pressuring them to join their party and pass the For the People Act.
“We told everyone to come out against all odds in the pandemic and vote,” said Yvette Simpson, CEO of the liberal advocacy organization, Democracy for America, about the 2020 election. The promise was that with Democrats in power, “we’re going to have all these great things happen, their lives are going to be better. And what they’re finding is that it looks like Washington as usual.”
Why We Need to Know:
Democrats are also looking to fight voting rights outside of Capitol Hill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is recommending President Biden nominate two prominent voting rights attorneys to serve as judges on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and on the federal bench in Manhattan.
Among his recommendations are Myrna Perez, who serves as the director of voting rights and election programs at NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice, for the appeals court position; and Dale Ho, founder of the Voting Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, as a federal judge in the Southern District of New York.