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Republicans Attack Joe Manchin's Voting 'Compromise'
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Republicans Attack Joe Manchin's Voting 'Compromise'

Senate Republicans stated unequivocally on Thursday that they oppose all Democratic proposals to overhaul the nation's voting systems, including those proposed by moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

Their staunch opposition to any federal voting legislation highlights the fact that there is very little chance of a bipartisan solution, as Manchin has insisted.

On Wednesday, Manchin outlined the voting provisions he would support in the For the People Act, a sweeping package of voting rights, campaign finance, ethics, and redistricting reforms. His “compromise” list, which is designed to unite Democrats more than anything else, includes things like expanding early voting, mandating automatic voter registration, declaring Election Day a holiday, and other measures.

But any hopes of getting Republicans on board with a narrower bill were quickly dashed on Thursday, when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called Manchin's ideas "no compromise" at a press conference with a dozen other GOP senators.

“All Republicans will oppose that as well,” he said of Manchin’s more limited set of voting reforms.

McConnell said in a statement released before the press conference that Manchin's proposal "undermines the First Amendment to supercharge cancel culture and the left's name-and-shame campaign model."

Republicans were also quick to point out that Democratic former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams had endorsed Manchin's list of proposed voting changes, implying that the proposals were not bipartisan in the first place.

“When Stacey Abrams immediately endorsed Sen. Manchin’s proposal, it became Stacey Abrams’ substitute, not Joe Manchin’s substitute,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

Republicans have effectively killed both of Manchin's voting proposals: the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, a narrow bill that would restore the Justice Department's ability to oversee changes to state election laws, and his latest "compromise" offer on the For the People Act.

On Thursday, however, when asked about McConnell's stance, Manchin appeared unfazed.

“McConnell has the right to do whatever he thinks he can do, and I would hope that there are enough good Republicans who understand that the bedrock of our society is having an accessible, fair, and open election,” Manchin said, repeating a version of something he said before Republicans filibustered legislation to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol.

He expressed optimism that bipartisan relationships formed in the Senate on other issues would eventually persuade enough Republicans to support a voting bill.

“They’ll use those same connections and relationships when we get into difficult areas right now with voting, and I’m hoping they can reach out and help a little bit,” Manchin said.

Manchin has repeatedly stated that he will never support the repeal of the Senate filibuster, which prevents Democrats from passing legislation on voting rights, gun control, immigration, climate change, and a slew of other issues, and he has shown no willingness to budge on the issue even as Republicans have rejected his efforts to forge a bipartisan compromise.

The issue will be brought to a head next week when the Senate holds an initial vote to formally open debate on a voting bill. Democratic leaders have not said what changes, if any, they will make to the For the People Act, but it is likely that they will look something like what Manchin outlined this week. They will need his support to advance anything to the floor, and he indicated on Thursday that he will.

Manchin stated, "I think we all want to do that."

Even if Democrats defeat Manchin, Republicans will almost certainly filibuster the bill.

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