House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday expressed optimism that moderate West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin could change his mind and vote in favor of the H.R. 1 voting rights bill, also known as the For the People Act.
On CNN’s State of the Union, Pelosi said she’s remained in contact with Manchin, whose critical vote would be needed for the H.R. 1 voting rights legislation to pass through the Senate. Pelosi’s optimism has not been shared by several of her colleagues who have blasted Manchin as a do-nothing lawmaker who opposes the rights of minority voters.
Manchin penned an op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail last week, which explained bluntly “why I’m voting against the For the People Act.”
But despite his seemingly clear opposition to the voting rights reform bill, Pelosi told CNN “I’m not giving up” on trying to sway Manchin in favor of backing the bill.
“I read the op-ed and I think he left the door open, I think it’s ajar,” Pelosi said, producing a wide smile. “I do know that he had certain concerns about the legislation that we may be able to come to terms on.”
“Is there something you know that we don’t know?” CNN host Dana Bash pressed, but Pelosi declined to get into specific complaints expressed by the moderate West Virginia senator.
Pelosi stressed that she’s been in constant contact with Manchin and they maintain a strong, longtime political relationship.
The bill seeks to abolish numerous hurdles to voting, reform the power and role of money in elections, and to tighten federal ethics rules across every state. One key feature of the bill that has drawn the ire of Republicans is an allowance for “no-excuse mail voting” and at least 15 days minimum of early voting.
Additionally, there would be automatic registration and the restoration of voting rights to felons who have completed their prison sentences.
During remarks back in March about the H.R. 1 legislation, GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned the voting reform bill could be “absolutely devastating for Republicans” during future elections. McConnell and several other GOP lawmakers have characterized the bill as a “power grab.”
Numerous Democratic lawmakers, on the other hand, have openly ridiculed Manchin and some have even told him to switch his official party affiliation. Other Democrats and independents, including Maine Senator Angus King, have expressed their openness to dismantling the filibuster process in order to jam the voting rights bill through with a simple majority vote that would circumvent Manchin’s opposition altogether.
On Thursday, Democratic Iowa Representative Cindy Axne invoked the U.S. Civil War while making an impassioned defense of H.R. 1. And New York Democratic Representative Mondaire Jones published an essay Wednesday in which he accused Manchin of personally succeeding in “dooming our democracy” should he continue to reject voting in favor of the voting rights legislation.
Newsweek reached out to Pelosi and Manchin’s offices for additional remarks Sunday morning.