Joe Manchin proposed revised voting rights legislation that would, in theory, be a reasonable compromise, accepting a (dumb but fairly modest) voter ID requirement in exchange for the most important liberal ask (gerrymandering reform) and some other good provisions. It’s…legislating, for better or worse. The problem, of course, is that no Republicans will support it, and since Manchin has said that he won’t support any voting rights law that doesn’t have Republican support it’s all a ridiculous kabuki:
Senate Republicans spent months praising Joe Manchin for his insistence on cross-party compromise. Next week they will almost surely end his hopes for a bipartisan deal on elections.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he believed all 50 Republicans would oppose Sen. Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) slimmed-down elections compromise, which focuses on expanding early voting and ending partisan gerrymandering in federal elections. And it’s not clear there’s a single Republican vote to even begin debate on the matter, potentially dooming Manchin’s proposals before they can even make it into the bill.
Both Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said they would likely oppose a procedural vote next week that would bring Democrats’ massive elections reform bill to the Senate floor. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the Senate could amend the bill to adopt Manchin’s changes. But Romney said supporting that strategy “doesn’t make a lot of sense to me” and Murkowski said “Joe hasn’t briefed me on any of this.”
“It needs to be blocked,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who praised Manchin last week for “saving our country” in encouraging bipartisanship. “I’m not optimistic that they could make enough changes to that to make it a fair bill. It would usurp the rights of the states.”
Republicans will only support voting rights legislation that doesn’t interfere with “states’ rights,” if you know what I mean, and I think you do.
With a simple majority vote rule, Manchin could moderate liberal proposals like he proposes to do here, and the credible threat of partisan legislation passing could compel the handful of moderateish Republicans to come to the table. But Manchin’s ridiculous refusal to even threaten to modify the filibuster gives Republicans no incentive whatsoever to engage in his precious bipartsian dealmaking. It’s an incredibly stupid game, and Republicans are probably right to bet that no matter how ridiculous Manchin is made to look he (and his silent supporters in the Dem caucus) will keep playing it until the Dem majority is gone.