Senator Joe Machin has made it official: He say’s he’ll oppose Democrats’ landmark voting-rights bill, the For the People Act. In an op-ed published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail on Sunday morning, the West Virginia Democrat cited the lack of any Republican support for the bill, and wrote that he believed “partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act.” The moderate senator also reiterated that he “will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster,” on the off chance that wasn’t already abundantly clear. Without support from Manchin or from any Senate Republicans, or Manchin’s support for changing filibuster rules, it seems very likely the For the People Act will be dead on arrival when it is brought to the floor of the Senate later this month, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he plans to do.
The announcement did not come as a surprise, since Manchin has already made his ill feelings toward non-bipartisan voting reform very clear, and was already the only Senate Democrat who didn’t co-sponsor the For the People Act, which he has repeatedly criticized. Manchin also once again called on Senate leaders to “update and pass” the far less sweeping John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which aims to strengthen the Voting Rights Act “through regular order.” That bill has received support from only one Republican in the Senate, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski — well short of what would be needed to defeat a filibuster — and thus still faces similarly daunting odds, as Intelligencer’s Ed Kilgore noted a week ago.
The For the People Act, which has already twice passed in the House, would establish federally mandated voting and election standards nationwide, including no-excuse voting by mail and other rules for absentee voting; would impose limits on partisan gerrymandering; and would attempt to create a functioning public-financing system.