WASHINGTON —Republicans in the U.S. Senate blocked the advancement of a voting rights bill this evening, with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, on opposite sides of the issue.
After expressing earlier concerns about the so-called “For the People Act,” Manchin reversed course Tuesday, voting in support of an updated version of the Democratbacked election bill that includes changes he requested.
Manchin was the lone Democrat hold-out on the bill until Tuesday afternoon, adding drama to whether the measure would lack full Democratic support.
However, the full support was not enough as Republicans united in blocking debate on the bill, ending its advancement. A procedural vote to open debate on the legislation was defeated 50-50, falling short of the 60 votes needed to succeed.
“Over the past month, I have worked to eliminate the far reaching provisions of S.1, the For the People Act – which I do not support,” Manchin said in a statement Tuesday. “I’ve found common ground with my Democratic colleagues on a new version of the bill that ensures our elections are fair, accessible and secure. Today I will vote ‘yes’ to move to debate this updated voting legislation as a substitute amendment to ensure every eligible voter is able to cast their ballot and participate in our great democracy.”
Manchin said the new version of the bill made voting easier.
“This compromise legislation makes it easier to vote by expanding voter access through early voting and vote by mail for those who are eligible and unable to vote in person,’ Manchin said. “Additionally, the bill has been modified to include voter ID requirements that aim to strengthen the security of our elections without making it harder for Americans to vote. Finally, this common sense compromise seeks to end dark money and increase transparency behind campaign funding by requiring the disclosure of donors making contributions of $10,000 or more.”
Capito said the election bill was a partisan power grab by Democrats.
“Simply put: this was never about getting more people to vote, but rather a way for Democrats in Congress to power grab and fix problems that do not exist,” she said in a statement after her vote against the legislation. “In addition to dozens of egregious provisions, the process surrounding this bill, including the false pretense of bipartisanship, tells you all you need to know about the motivations of the special interests who are pushing for this unnecessary legislation. I want every eligible West Virginian to exercise their right to vote, find the process easy and accessible, and ensure their vote is counted. Fortunately in 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, West Virginia ran a successful election that saw increased, historic voter turnout. I am proud to stand with 54 of West Virginia’s 55 county clerks – Democrat and Republican – in defending our state’s authority to run our own elections, and I am happy to see this harmful, partisan bill fail today in the Senate.”
Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., supported the bill and said he had concerns about the actions of individual states.
“In recent years, we’ve seen states across the country enacting restrictive and discriminatory voting laws in a clear effort to make it harder for voters to make their voices heard at the ballot box,” he said in a statement after the vote. “It’s for this reason that I voted for this comprehensive voting rights bill. The bill would have expanded mail-in voting, increased early voting hours, strengthened the Voting Rights Act, created urgently needed federal standards to ensure no American is denied this fundamental right, and more. While the Commonwealth of Virginia has led the charge on voting rights by implementing many reforms found in this bill, too many states have refused to heed that call. We have an obligation to all those who risked their lives to protect this most fundamental of rights not to give up on this vital effort.”