On Monday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) released a letter urging Congress to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act (which has been renamed in honor of the late Rep. John Lewis), giving the legislation a boost as both the House and Senate prepare to debate voting rights in the weeks ahead.
According to NBC News, Manchin and Murkowski sent their letter to the top four congressional leaders, writing:
“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.”
In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down some of the key provisions found in the original Voting Rights Act, calling it outdated and removing the requirement that states must receive “preclearance” for any laws pertaining to voting that might be discriminatory, especially to voters of color.
Manchin has been harshly criticized by progressives in the Democratic Party who are upset with his refusal to back the “For the People Act,” which would greater ballot access and apply to all 50 states.
The West Virginia senator now says he wants some changes to the 2020 version of the Voting Rights Act and have it apply to every state, noting in the letter he drafted with Sen. Murkowski:
“Inaction is not an option. Congress must come together — just as we have done time and again — to reaffirm our longstanding bipartisan commitment to free, accessible, and secure elections for all. 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.”
However, unless Manchin agrees to make temporary changes in reforming the rules regarding the Senate filibuster, it seems unlikely that the John Lewis Act will go anywhere. No other Republican senators have expressed a willingness to pass the legislation, and without changes in the filibuster, the bill will probably never come to the Senate floor for a vote.
Featured Image Via NBC News