Joe Manchin, conservative U.S. Senator, on Thursday joined his right-wing Democratic colleague Kyrsten Sinema in announcing his opposition to abolishing the Senate filibuster, progressive observers excoriated the pair — who recently supported a filibuster carve-out to raise the debt ceiling — for obstructing their party’s landmark voting rights legislation.
Manchin (W.Va.) followed his Arizona colleague in voicing support for protecting the filibuster, which racial justice campaigners call a “Jim Crow relic” because it has been used so many times to block voting and civil rights legislation.
Mother Jones senior reporter Ari Berman notedThe Republican-led States “have passed new voter suppression laws, gerrymandered maps, and election subversion bills through simple majority, party-line votes, yet Sinema and Manchin demand [a] bipartisan supermajority to protect voting rights.”
Berman said the pair “are like spineless Republican senators during end of Reconstruction who supported filibuster of voting rights bill that would’ve blocked poll taxes and literacy tests,” actions that “ushered in 75 years of Jim Crow.”
Sinema & Manchin represent 2.8% of US population but allowing 41 GOP senators representing just 21% of country to block voting rights bills supported by 70% of Americans that would protect voting access for tens of millions. The US political system is completely broken
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) January 13, 2022
In a lengthy statement in which he declared that he “will not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” Manchin cited former Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va), an erstwhile Ku Klux Klan member and ardent segregationist who infamously filibustered the landmark 1964 Voting Rights Act for 14 hours. Byrd would later renounce racism in his congressional career.
“Senator Byrd’s insight helped explain why at no time in the history of the United States has the Senate been able to end debate on legislation with a simple majority,” Manchin falsely asserted, as the rules of the first U.S. Senate in 1789 allowedAfter a simple majority vote, the debate will be over.
The devil works hard, but Joe Manchin works harder https://t.co/Sd8KSeDQeh
— Ellen Sciales 🌅 (@Lnsciales) January 13, 2022
Progressives also pointed out that Sinema and Manchin approved a carveout to the filibuster just over a month back in order to raise federal debt limit.
We’re old enough to remember a whole month ago when both Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin voted to make an exception to the filibuster for the debt ceiling.
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) January 13, 2022
“Sinema and Manchin voted last month to abolish the filibuster for the debt ceiling — but won’t vote to abolish the filibuster for voting rights,” tweeted human rights attorney Qasim Rashid, who said that’s because “raising the debt ceiling keeps them employed — but expanding voting rights makes them irrelevant.”
Manchin’s statement came after President Joe Biden met with the Senate Democratic caucus and urged members to take the necessary steps — including abolishing or modifying the filibuster — to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Republican senators blockedThe 60-vote filibuster rule was invoked to block the bills
Multiple outlets reported that Biden would meet Sinema, Manchin, and Sinema Thursday night in an attempt to save the two voting rights laws.
“We’re going to keep fighting until the votes are had.”
White House press secretary. Jen Psaki reacts to Sens. Pres. rejected by Sinema and Manchin Biden’s push to change filibuster for voting rights. https://t.co/jWQ1WUZRoF pic.twitter.com/lUenjoWmBQ
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) January 13, 2022
When asked earlier in the day whether the president has accepted that he “cannot sway” the pair when it comes to the filibuster, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that “we’re going to keep fighting until the votes are had.”
VoxJamil Smith is a senior correspondent tweeted that Sinema “thought it would be a good idea today to spit on John Lewis’ legacy,” and that she and Manchin know that their “own party is the only one trying to repair a Voting Rights Act that requires repair.”
My friend, rest in your power. pic.twitter.com/JOQzQlLB66
— Kyrsten Sinema (@SenatorSinema) July 18, 2020
“They just do not care,” he said.