Democratic Oregon’s U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley vowed Sunday that he “will not give up on American democracy” after a colleague doomed the legislation he sponsored to standardize federal election practices in all 50 states.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, announced earlier in the day that he will not provide the necessary 51st Democratic vote to pass the For the People Act that has numerous other co-sponsors.
“Voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen,” Manchin wrote in a home-state newspaper, the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
Manchin also wrote that failure to bring together both parties on voting legislation would “risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials.”
Merkley issued the following statement in response:
“Obviously I’m disappointed by Sen. Manchin’s position. The For the People Act is popular among Democrats, Republicans and independents all across the country.
“It is popular because Americans love the vision of government of, by, and for the People, and that means ending the deep corruption that comes from gerrymandering, billionaires buying elections, and attacks on the freedom and right of every American to vote.
“I wish with all my heart that this bill weren’t necessary, or that Republicans in the Senate would join us in defending Americans’ right to vote. But in the face of a coup attempt incited by a president trying to overturn an election and a nationwide attempt to ensure that the will of the voters does not determine the outcome of future elections, I am dead set against doing nothing.
“As I have told all my colleagues many times, I am open to any conversation about the provisions of this bill, and will not give up on American democracy.”
Among other things, the bill would strike down hurdles to voting, restrict partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, and require states to offer 15 days of early voting and allow no-excuse absentee balloting.
Democrats have pushed the bill as a response to former President Trump’s claims that the 2020 was stolen from him. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, has promised to bring the election bill to a vote the week of June 21, but without Manchin’s support, it has no chance of passing because Senate Republicans are united against it.