Voting rights bill in limbo on Capitol Hill

WASHINTON, D.C. (CNN) – A key Biden priority is set to fail a major test on Capitol Hill Tuesday when the Senate is set to vote on an election reform bill known as the “For the People Act.” Right now, the bill has no Republican support and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin wants major changes in exchange for a “yes” vote.

The bill designed to rewrite voting and election laws faces a Republican filibuster, almost certainly dooming the issue until after next year’s midterms even as GOP-led states impose new restrictions on access to voting.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “Is the Democratic party united? We weren’t as of a couple weeks ago that’s a step forward if and when and, as I acknowledged we don’t expect there to be a magical ten or more Republican votes.”

But Democrats have been struggling to get all 50 of their members in line. That’s because West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has objected to their main proposal. Though in recent days he’s proposed his own alternative, including requiring an ID to vote, expanding early voting and banning partisan gerrymandering of House districts. Liberals have sounded open to those ideas.

Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) said, “Sounds like I’m open to doing everything I possibly can to protect American democracy.”

But Republicans are still strongly opposed. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “The real driving force of S-1 is a desire to rig the rules of American elections permanently in democrats’ favor. That’s why the Senate will give this disastrous proposal no [unintelligible].”

For many Democrats, they hope the GOP blockade will finally convince Manchin to change his opposition to gutting the filibuster. Yet Manchin has been crystal clear he won’t endorse eliminating the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold.

Manchin said, “I asked everybody, ‘How well did the 2013 nuclear option work when in 2017 they came back and took it off the Supreme Court?’ That’s all, what goes around comes around. So let’s work together. Let’s find a pathway forward.”

Manchin is also in the center of another issue: infrastructure, where bipartisan talks in the Senate over a $1.2 trillion proposal continue to drag on even as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is preparing to go forward with a party-line approach to pass a much larger package.”

But he’ll the need the support of Manchin and other moderates to get a Democratic-only bill to Biden’s desk.

When asked if he had a commitment from Senators Manchin and Sinema that they would back a party-line vote via reconciliation, Schumer replied, “I’m not going to get into my individual talks with members. We all know we’ve got to come together or nothing gets done.”

Reconciliation is a budget process that would possibly allow passage of the bill with only Democratic votes.

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