Senate Democrats have a new voting overhaul bill that holdout Joe Manchin has agreed to, unifying all 50 Democratic members, but the legislation has very little chance to become law.
The new bill is called the Freedom to Vote Act, and is a compromise between the centrists and progressives. The bill drops elements of contention such as restructuring the Federal Election Commission to focus on guaranteeing access to the ballot.
The new bill would make it easier to register to vote, make Election Day a public holiday, ensure states have early voting for federal elections and allow all voters to request mail-in ballots. In addition, the measure would bolster security on voting systems, overhaul how House districts are redrawn and impose new disclosures on donations to outside groups active in political campaigns.
Democrats say the legislation is needed to combat the onslaught of states implementing new laws that restrict access to voting. Republicans say federal legislation is partisan overreach to tip the scales of close races.
Liberals have pushed Manchin to allow a “carveout” on the filibuster to allow the new law to advance with a simple majority of 51 votes instead of 60.
On Monday, Manchin said, “The filibuster is permanent,” with worry it would lead to less protection for the minority party, although he has previously entertained some willingness to alter the rules of the filibuster. Manchin has been reaching out to Republicans to back the new version of the Democrats’ voting bill.
President Biden has previously been opposed to abolishing the filibuster in favor of restoring the talking filibuster, but on Monday the White House did not deny that Biden has shifted his filibuster reform stance with top Democratic leaders.
Reports say that Biden recently told Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer that he will “start making phone calls” and lobbying centrist Democrats and Republicans on filibuster reform.