Inside Manchin’s search for GOP votes on elections reform

Still, the chances that Manchin’s engagement will lead to an agreement are slim, given the significant ideological divide between the two parties on this issue.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed that the Senate will soon vote on the Democrats’ latest proposal, which would establish some federally mandated voting rules, including earlier voting options and expanded access to postal ballot papers. Additionally, the legislation requires a much larger circle of politically active groups to disclose their donors and adds more transparency requirements.

Schumer said he is giving Manchin time to consult with the Senate Republicans before passing the legislation. But so far it has had no support from the 50 members of the GOP parliamentary group who say it is an attempt to federalize the US electoral system and encroach on state rights.

“We are negotiating in good faith with the Republicans and we will see what happens,” Manchin said this week. “We have some recommendations from our Republican friends that are now going back. So we’ll see how that goes. ”

In addition to Blunt, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is one of the Republicans speaking to Manchin on the subject. Others hesitated to discuss their involvement.

Many proponents of the Democratic electoral and ethical reform package argue that efforts to reach a bipartisan compromise are in vain. Progressives have long wanted legislation to serve as a vehicle to kill the legislative filibuster, and Democrats argue that passing the bill in the near future is necessary to combat restrictive GOP voting laws.

But without changing the Senate rules, the latest democratic plan has no chance of being passed. Some Democrats had secretly hoped Manchin could be tricked into changing the Chamber’s rules if he tried to get the Republicans on board. Manchin, together with Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Is decidedly against both destroying the legal offense and creating a split for the voting legislation only.

Manchin is not the only Democrat who, despite months of stalemate, has turned to Republicans over voting and election legislation. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), A member of the Judiciary Committee, has also contacted Republicans about legislation named after the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) That would restore the requirement that certain jurisdictions receive prior federal approval Make changes to electoral laws. While the bill passed the House of Representatives in August, Murkowski was the only Republican in the Senate who helped fund the bill last year, and said this week that she is still participating in the discussions.

“I continue to work with my friend Joe Manchin and Sen. Leahy,” she said.

Senator Thom Tillis (RN.C.) has meanwhile spoken to both Manchin and Leahy about electoral legislation. But Tillis admitted that there is “quite a big gap” at the moment.

“I’m always looking for opportunities to work with [Manchin]“Said Tillis. “We had our co-workers to speak to Leahy and others, but I think just as they have red lines that they need to see, we have some red lines on things that we cannot allow.”

Manchin has strong ties across the aisle, and Senate Republicans went out of their way to convince the West Virginia Democrats for their refusal to abolish the law filibuster and their rejection of the $ 3.5 trillion price tag on the Democrats’ social spending plan to praise. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell recently spoke warm words to Manchin, and even met with him about the latest elections and the ethics bill, despite saying hours earlier that it would receive no Republican support.

While Manchin played a key role in reaching agreement on the bipartisan physical infrastructure package and coronavirus alleviation law last year, bridging the party’s voting gaps is a tough – and potentially impossible – boost. Right now it’s hard to see an agreement that will bring both 10 Republicans on board and satisfy the 50-member Democratic Group, many of whom consider the elections and ethics law an existential matter.

“Joe is thinking, is there something we can agree on,” said a Senate Republican. “The problem with most of what he essentially wants to do has to do with taking over the state role, and we can’t go there because we don’t believe in it.”

Manchin has long insisted that any change in electoral law be bipartisan, and posted a June comment stating his opposition to the Democrats’ initial “S.1” ethical and electoral reform. to signal their importance to the party. Over the summer, Manchin worked with a group of seven Democratic senators and Schumers to work out a law that was supported by all 50 Democrats.

Manchin’s Democratic counterparts watch his efforts to woo Republicans with a mixture of skepticism and interest. With the battle over the debt ceiling and the urge to get Manchin’s vote on the reconciliation package, the public debate over how to get electoral and ethical reform through the Senate is not in the foreground.

Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said “there is always hope” that Manchin can find a compromise, citing her own bipartisan legislation to combat hate crimes against Asian Americans, but added, “I don’t bet it.” Meanwhile compared Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) Manchin’s efforts to get the Republicans on board with his own push for some sort of background check.

“Our preference should always be to do things across party lines,” Murphy said. “I’m more likely to find 60 votes for a background check bill than he is 60 for a voting rights bill, but we’re both in the same business.”

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