WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin said Sunday he won't support the For the People Act passed by House Democrats, potentially dooming the legislation. He also said he wouldn't support ending the filibuster rule.
Without Manchin's support, the sweeping voting reform legislation — approved by the House in March with no Republican support, in response to efforts by GOP lawmakers in many states to tighten voting standards — seems set to fail in the evenly-divided Senate and may not be brought for a vote.
The Democrat announced his position in an op-ed for the Charleston Gazette-Mail in his home state of West Virginia.
"I believe that 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," Manchin wrote.
"Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster," he wrote. That rule allows the minority party to block most legislation by requiring 60 votes to allow debate to go forward. Manchin has said repeatedly he wouldn't support ending it.
President Joe Biden in May called for the Senate to pass the voting rights leg islation. The measure would set national standards for election laws, including no-excuse mail-in voting and automatic voter registration, require additional campaign finance disclosures, and impose new ethics provisions for all three branches of federal government.
Manchin and GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have instead urged a broad rewrite of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, dubbed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, as a bipartisan alternative to the House legislation.
"The truth is there is a better way — if we seek to find it together," Manchin wrote.
On "Fox News Sunday" Manchin said the nearly 800-page bill passed by the House and known in the Senate as S.1, was "the wrong piece of legislation" and contained many items that don't pertain to actual voting rights.
The senator's concerns "remain on the process, not the substance," the End Citizens United/Let America Vote Action Fund, a coalition supportive of the bill, said in a statement.
"When Senator Manchin comes to the realization that Republicans in the Senate are not acting in good faith, he is going to have to make a decision about whether he is truly committed to protecting everyone's freedom to vote," said ECU/LAV President Tiffany Mueller.
Manchin said he didn't think that by rejecting a measure supported by his own party, he had "empowered" Republicans in Congress to be obstructionist to Biden's agenda.
Still, he said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who's characterized the voting rights legislation a partisan power grab, "is 100% wrong in trying to block all good things that we are trying to do for America."
Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who typically votes with Democrats, said on CNN's "State of the Union" that while "in general" he's reluctant to get rid of the filibuster, if "it comes down to voting rights and the rights of Americans to go to the polls and select their leaders, versus the filibuster, I will choose democracy."