In what is being seen as a bipartisan effort, Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) are calling for a reauthorization of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Manchin and Murkowski sent a joint letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell citing the unanimous passage of the Voting Right’s Act of 2006, and that a reauthorization is necessary because voting rights has “not been a partisan issue” since the VRA was first passed 1965. The Senators urged that it not become a partisan issue now.
NEW from Manchin and Murkowski to congressional leaders: "We urge you to join us in calling for the bipartisan reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act through regular order. We can do this. We must do this." pic.twitter.com/c0Fgcu4dtW
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) May 17, 2021
Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska made the pitch in a letter that noted that the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed discriminatory voting practices, was last reauthorized in 2006 with a bipartisan Senate vote of 98-0.
Democrats, who hold narrow majorities in both houses of Congress, have passed a sweeping voting rights bill in the House of Representatives. Manchin rejected that bill as too broad, though even with his support the measure would likely fall short of the 60 votes it would need to pass the 100-seat Senate.
The Supreme Court struck down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, saying that Section 4, the formula used to determine which states and localities were subject to additional federal scrutiny, was outdated.
“Protecting Americans’ access to democracy has not been a partisan issue for the past 56 years, and we must not allow it to become one now,” Manchin and Murkowski wrote.
Manchin had already opposed abandoning the filibuster. In April, he also rejected HR1, the “For the People Act” in its current form.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin announced that he will not be supporting H.R. 1, the Democrat-backed election reform bill, although he said he’s supportive of many provisions within the legislation.
The West Virginia senator “would not be able to support” the 800-page election overhaul bill, which passed in a party-line vote in the House of Representatives on March 3, he said.
“Every vote should be accessible, it should be secure, and it should be fair. That’s the responsibility we have, and [if] the states are subverting that, then we should put guard rails on it,” he said on MetroNews, although he did not specify what parts of the bill he doesn’t support.
This precipitated his alliance with Murkowski to work to reform the Voting Rights Act, and create changes in a bipartisan manner.
Twenty-five states, including West Virginia, have either passed — or are seeking to pass — voting rights acts within their mostly Republican-controlled legislatures. Democrats are against these measures, seeing these laws as more restrictive of voting rights rather than less.