Washington — Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has circulated a list of demands for voting legislation among his Democratic colleagues, indicating he may be willing to consider a revised version of the sweeping voting and elections reform bill that the Senate will take up at the end of the month.
Manchin, known as the For the People Act, raising concerns about passing partisan voting legislation. Supporters of the bill note that several Republican-led states are advancing laws that would restrict voting rights along party lines, and say that S. 1 is necessary to counter these actions.
Manchin told reporters on Wednesday that he had shared with his colleagues “things I can support and vote with” in the For the People Act.
“People were assuming that I was against S. 1, because there was no Republicans supporting it. That’s not the case at all,” Manchin said. “I said basically, you should not pass any type of a voter bill in the most divisive time of our life unless you have some unity on this thing, because you just divide the country further.”
According to a copy of the list obtained by CBS News, these areas of support include provisions banning partisan gerrymandering and mandating at least 15 consecutive days of early voting for federal elections. Manchin’s list also includes areas of compromise relating to ethics and campaign finance.
However, he supports some provisions that could be unpopular with progressive Democrats, such as requiring a voter ID with “allowable alternatives” for providing proof of identity to vote and allowing elections officials to purge voter rolls. He also does not appear to support no-excuse mail-in voting, although he would want to require states to send absentee ballots to eligible voters ahead of an election.
The list also does not address one of the most controversial campaign finance portions of the bill, which would provide public financing for congressional elections.
Manchin is currently the lone Democrat who is not a co-sponsor of the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will bring the legislation to the Senate floor for consideration next week. Manchin told reporters that he was “not confident” that Schumer would agree to make changes to S. 1, but said he believed “I owe it to them,” meaning other Democrats and groups that support the measure, to explain his opposition to the bill in its current form.
“I’ve delivered to Bernie and everybody that’s asked for it. We’ve sent it to all the different organizations that want to know why, and what changes. I’ve sent everything to everybody,” Manchin said, referring to Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the Senate’s most progressive members.
Manchin’s list also included demands for thewhich has not yet been introduced, but would restore a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. That provision required certain jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting to receive approval, known as preclearance, from the federal government before making changes to their voting rules.
Manchin’s demands for this bill include decreasing the attorney general’s authority in determining whether a state or jurisdiction violated voting rights and establishing “objective measures” for determining whether a state or jurisdiction has a pattern of discrimination.
Even if Manchin’s changes were implemented, it’s unclear whether S. 1 would garner any support from Republicans, who are unilaterally opposed. As the bill would require 60 votes to advance in the Senate, and Democrats only hold 50 seats, the measure would fail even with Manchin’s support unless it got support from 10 Democrats. Manchin has repeatedly said he would not support eliminating the filibuster, which would allow legislation to pass in the Senate with a simple majority of votes.
When asked if he believed Republicans would change their minds about S. 1 if changes were made, Manchin said he has “no clue.” Senate Democrats are expected to continue to discuss the legislation in a caucus meeting next week.
Jack Turman contributed to this report.