Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., warned in an interview published Tuesday that a push among Senate Democrats to approve a sweeping overhaul of federal voting laws without bipartisan support would further erode public trust in elections and result in “anarchy.”
Manchin, a key swing vote in the Senate, pushed back on calls to reform or abolish the filibuster to bypass Republican opposition to House Resolution 1, the Democrat-backed bill known as the “For The People Act.” The House passed the measure in a party-line vote in March, but Republicans have widely opposed the voting overhaul and the Democrats are unlikely to secure the 60 votes required to bypass the filibuster in the Senate.
“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?” Manchin told Vox when asked about the possibility of filibuster reform to facilitate the bill’s passage.
HR 1 would put nonpartisan commissions in charge of gerrymandering rather than party-controlled state legislatures, expand early and absentee voting, ease restrictions on state voter registration and overhaul the campaign finance system.
Democrats have argued the changes are necessary to ensure fair access to the election process amid a push in some states to tighten voting laws. Meanwhile, Republicans say the measure is unbalanced in favor of Democrats and grants the federal government undue influence over state elections.
Manchin noted that many Americans already distrust existing voting systems following a contentious 2020 election cycle.
The West Virginia Democrat argued that a Democrat-backed overhaul of voting laws without Republican support would further the divide could lead to “anarchy.” He cited the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the building as lawmakers met to certify President Biden’s election victory.
“I just believe with all my heart and soul that’s what would happen, and I’m not going to be part of it,” Manchin added.
Manchin has broken with Democratic party leadership on several key issues in recent months, including a push for the inclusion of a $15 federal minimum wage in a coronavirus stimulus package. He has remained adamant that he will not support any effort to get rid of the filibuster.