Manchin finishes negotiating with himself over voting rights legislation

Manchin finishes negotiating with himself over voting rights legislation
Image via Screengrab.

It's feeling like Groundhog Day: Sen. Joe Manchin has emerged to announce voting rights provisions he would support, and for which he has reportedly suggested he could win Republican support. Up next, Republicans will refuse to support Manchin's modest, centrist proposal, followed by questions about whether or when Manchin will consider reforming the filibuster so that all these things he claims to support can actually pass.

Maybe this will be the straw that breaks the camel's back and Manchin will admit, in deep sorrow, that 10 Republicans are never going to support anything Democrats want, and that therefore, though he wishes it could be otherwise, he is left with no choice but to back changes to the filibuster. Much more likely, he will whine and complain about how sad it is that few or no Republicans will join him, but will continue insisting that the filibuster is a requirement of bipartisanship which must never, ever be changed.

Crucially, Manchin supports the For the People Act's ban on gerrymandering. He also supports instituting 15 days of early voting, automatic voter registration, making Election Day a holiday, and disclosure of dark money.

Those are good or potentially good things. In the middle ground, Manchin supports a voter ID requirement, a measure often used by Republicans to make voting more difficult. But Manchin explicitly says he'd allow for things like utility bills to be used as ID, which would dramatically lower the barrier. (Or, as Stephen Wolf suggests, Democrats could think big and offer a free national ID to meet the requirement.)

On the negative side, Manchin opposes no-excuse absentee voting, same-day voter registration, and public financing of elections. He is just fine with voter purges. He wants to continue disenfranchising people over past felony convictions.

But of course none of what Manchin supports or opposes here matters unless he can either find 10 Republicans to support his plan (ha) or is willing to make significant changes to the filibuster so that Republicans cannot painlessly filibuster everything other than budget reconciliation bills. At present, Manchin is offering Republicans veto power even over things he strongly supports, like a Jan. 6 commission. Is he going to shift position on the filibuster over voting rights? Or infrastructure? Is there a point when Manchin will acknowledge what every honest observer can already see: that Republicans are not acting in good faith and will not suddenly begin acting in good faith?

At the exact same time he's supporting these voting rights provisions, Manchin is crankily equivocating on his support for infrastructure spending on exactly the same bipartisanship grounds he's used to hold up every other thing. So maybe he's doing a truly masterful job laying the groundwork for that sorrowful turn against the filibuster due to the endless bad faith of Republicans. But does Joe Manchin really seem that nimble and adept to you?

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.