Pelosi’s note to fellow Democrats comes two days after Manchin infuriated many in his party by declaring in an op-ed that he would vote against the party’s broader voting bill, known as H.R. 1 and S. 1. The West Virginia senator also reiterated his opposition to removing or changing the upper chamber’s filibuster — which virtually guarantees the demise of much of Biden’s agenda on the Hill.
Manchin has long been the most high-profile holdout on the sprawling voting bill, and is now under intense scrutiny as Democrats scramble to figure out their next steps on both voting rights and the rest of Biden’s agenda, all with razor-thin margins in both chambers.
The West Virginia senator has said he wants Democrats to instead focus on a smaller-scale voting bill, named for Lewis, that would reauthorize the Voting Rights Act and restore provisions that the Supreme Court struck down in 2013. The broader voting bill, Manchin said, was drafted in a “partisan manner” that would only further sour relations between the two parties.
But Pelosi stressed that the more narrow bill “will not be ready until the fall” as it undergoes intense vetting to prepare for likely legal challenges. And she said it would not be an alternative to the mammoth bill intended in part to protect voting access in light of restrictive efforts by GOP legislatures across the country.
Pelosi and other top Democrats have argued that Congress must move as swiftly as possible to counteract what they’ve called voter suppression in GOP-led states before the 2022 midterms. They’re also looking to enact new policies to end political gerrymandering before states draft new maps for House races using last year’s Census.
Even if Manchin did vote yes, Democrats’ signature voting bill would still face an enormous barrier to becoming law: the Senate’s 60-vote threshold known as the filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to put the legislation on the floor the last week of June, and Democrats had hoped for a unanimous vote that would intensify criticism of the filibuster.
Democrats haven’t entirely given up on Manchin, who cosponsored the 2019 version of the bill to which he’s now opposed. The West Virginia senator met Tuesday morning with civil rights advocates, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, about both pieces of legislation.