While the issue has historic democratic support in the Senate, it will not succeed without Manchin’s support in the tightly divided chamber and the existence of the legislative filibuster, which requires 60 votes to pass.
Some Democrats who support the law have admitted it isn’t a top priority, saying they are taking a more pragmatic approach and focusing on issues like infrastructure.
Before the House voted on the bill, which was passed between 216 and 208 last Thursday, Manchin had said he was “still debating” and added that he had many other things going on.
In the radio interview, he said that he has since taken a “deep dive” with his staff to examine the conclusions of the Justice Department under the Carter and Reagan administrations, as well as comments from then Attorney General Robert Kennedy. They all stated that DC statehood would require a constitutional change, he said.
Manchin cited the 23rd amendment, which gave DC residents the right to vote and the votes of the electoral college, as something that hinders the road to statehood. He added that taking action by Congress would likely result in a challenge by the Supreme Court.
“Every legal scholar has told us that. So why not go ahead and get people to vote to see if they want to change?” he said.