John Lewis Voting Rights Act Adds Manchin and Murkowski

A bipartisan compromise on a revised version of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act was announced on Tuesday by Democratic Senators Leahy, Durbin, and Manchin, along with Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski. Manchin was a previous hold-out on the version of the bill rolled out last month.

While Manchin and Murkowski had supported the John Lewis bill in previous Congresses, they were not listed as co-sponsors of the revised bill of October.

“In the weeks and months ahead, I am committed to building support for this bipartisan compromise that addresses the threats to voting rights across our nation without infringing on states’ rights so that it can move through regular order with bipartisan support,” Manchin said in a statement.

Murkowski said,  “We must put aside our differences and come together.”

The Senate will vote on Wednesday to start debate on the legislation, but without 60 votes the bill will fail to move forward with a choice between voting rights or obstruction.

The last time the 1965 Voting Rights Act was considered for renewal by the Senate, in 2006, it passed 98–0.  

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was perhaps the most effective civil rights law in American history. It changed the South, and the country. By 2012, Black voter turnout had equaled or exceeded white voter turnout in states like Louisiana, Alabama, and South Carolina. Everyone, everyone, agreed that the Voting Rights Act worked. 

In 2013, however, the Supreme Court triggered the collapse of that consensus. In Shelby County v. Holder, five justices ruled that the Voting Rights Act was outdated, and they eviscerated its protections. The four dissenting justices predicted the decision would allow the return of discriminatory voting laws. 

Brennan Center

The Hill