Manchin kills voting rights moments before Biden’s speech

Sen Joe Manchin effectively killed voting rights hours before President Joe Biden was set to give a speech in Atlanta pushing for voting rights, saying the filibuster was an important rule for the Senate.

The West Virginia Democrat’s opposition to changing the filibuster comes also as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he plans to put voting rights legislation up for a vote as soon as Wednesday.

“We need some good rule changes to make the place work better but getting rid of the filibuster doesn’t make it work better,” he told CBS News’s Scott MacFarlane.

Mr Manchin said the filibuster is what makes the Senate work.

“We need some good rules changes and we can do that together,” he said but additional that it needed to be done with an overwhelming consensus. “Getting rid of the filibuster does not make it work better.”

When asked later by The Independent what he thought about Mr Schumer bringing voting rights legislation to the floor, Mr Manchin said “I got nothing for you guys.”

When asked by reporters whether Republicans would sustain a rule that would require three-fifths of Senators who were present at the moment to break a filibuster.

“It’s something we should do. It’s not something new,” he told reporters.

Sen Mark Warner of Virginia, a friend of Mr Manchin, said he had been “lots of current conversations” among Democrats when it came to proceeding on voting rights.

“I take Sen Schumer at his information that we’re going to have this dealt with this week,” he told The Independent.

Mr Manchin’s opposition to changing the 60-vote threshold when Democrats have only 50 votes came as Mr Biden traveled to Atlanta to speak about voting rights.

When Sen Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat from Nevada up for reelection this year, asked how optimistic she was that the filibuster could be changed, she said “We’ll find out.”

“I sustain talking filibuster, absolutely,” she said.

Democrats have hoped to create a carve-out of the filibuster to pass voting rights as Republicans have largely opposed passing a new version of the Voting Rights Act.

But Republican Sen Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he was confident that Mr Manchin and Democratic Sen Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, another opponent of the filibuster,

“This idea of making one exception, that’s the end of it,” he told The Independent. Mr Graham said that when Republicans were in strength, former president Donald Trump wanted Republicans to ditch the filibuster but they rebuffed him. “I’ve been in their shoes. I appreciate their standing up for the institution. There was all kind of pressure on us.”

When asked about how Republicans changed the rules for Supreme Court nominations, Mr Graham noted that was because Democrats changed the rules for confirmations for the appeals court judges and then they started to filibustering Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation.

“That’s how this place falls apart,” he said.

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