House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urged the Senate to approve a bill that would constitute the largest expansions of voter protections yet, dismissing the objections of Senator Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), who vowed not to vote for the measure on partisan grounds and highlighted problems with the Democrats‘ ability to pass major legislation with a razor-thin majority.
The For the People Act “must become law in order to respect the sanctity of the vote, which is the basis of our democracy,” Pelosi wrote in a Dear Colleague letter to House Democrats.
In her letter, Pelosi noted that the legislation would reduce “the role of big, dark special interest money in politics,” contribute to “Stopping the voter suppression and protecting the vote of tens of millions of Americans” and end “political gerrymandering by establishing redistricting commissions.”
“Our mission is to amplify the voices of the grassroots, as they vote, advocate for policy and choose to run for office. H.R. 1/S. 1 must become law in order to respect the sanctity of the vote, which is the basis of our democracy,” she continued, adding:
“In addition, it is essential that H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, become law. When we pass H.R. 4, we must do so in a way that is ironclad constitutionally… H.R. 4 must be passed, but it will not be ready until the fall, and it is not a substitute for H.R. 1. Congressman John Lewis wrote 300 pages of H.R. 1 to end voter suppression. H.R. 1/S. 1 must be passed now. It would be our hope to have this pass the House and Senate in a bipartisan way.”
Pelosi did not mention Manchin by name, but she did not have to. Manchin made clear earlier this week that he would not vote for the legislation, calling it a “partisan” bill.
“Today’s debate about how to best protect our right to vote and to hold elections, however, is not about finding common ground, but seeking partisan advantage,” he wrote in an op-ed for the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “Whether it is state laws that seek to needlessly restrict voting or politicians who ignore the need to secure our elections, partisan policymaking won’t instill confidence in our democracy — it will destroy it.”
Manchin’s comments were soon rebuked by Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), who accused him of “doing everything in his power to stop democracy.”
Bowman further compared Manchin and his tactics to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom he considers an obstructionist. Indeed, McConnell has made it clear that he has made it a personal mission of his to block as much legislation proposed by Democrats as possible.
“Joe Manchin has become the new Mitch McConnell,” Bowman said. “Mitch McConnell, during Obama’s’ presidency, said he would do everything in his power to stop Obama. He’s also repeated that now during the Biden presidency,” he said.