Mitch McConnell says Republicans will reject Joe Manchin’s compromise bill on voting rights

Democrats pushing forward with vote on For The People Act this month against widespread GOP opposition

Alex Woodward
New York
Thursday 17 June 2021 20:45 BST
Justice Department will review restrictive GOP voting laws

After Senator Joe Manchin pitched a compromise bill following his rejection of sweeping voting rights proposals in the For The People Act, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – whose caucus is ready to reject the Democratic bill – said he also opposes the counter offer.

The measure needs at last 60 votes to pass the evenly divided Senate to overcome a likely Republican filibuster; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is teeing up a vote in the Senate on 22 June, though it’s unclear Democrats even have enough votes to begin debate.

S1, or The For The People Act, proposes automatic voter registration and at least 15 consecutive days of early voting for federal elections, prohibits restrictive voter ID laws and standardises mail-in voting and ballot drop-boxes options.

It also would eliminate partisan gerrymandering and expose donors behind super PACs and “dark money” groups that provide financial engines for political campaigns and lobbying efforts.

The bill would also establish a voluntary public financing effort for federal campaigns, using public funds – raised from a percentage of fees and fines from corporate malfeasance cases – to create a 6-1 match for small-dollar donations, capped at $200. (It does not use or raise money from taxpayers.)

Senator Manchin’s proposal would add a nationwide voter ID requirement or other alternative – like providing a utility bill receipt to prove identity – and make Election Day a public holiday, among an outline of roughly two dozen other proposals that incorporate some of the original bill, including tighter campaign finance and ethics rules widely rejected by Republicans.

Prominent voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams said she would support the compromise measure, triggering opposition among GOP lawmakers.

“Senate Democrats seem to have reached a so-called ‘compromise’ election takeover among themselves. In reality, the plan endorsed by Stacey Abrams is no compromise,” Mr McConnell said on Thursday.

Republican Senator Roy Blunt told reporters that when “Stacey Abrams immediately endorsed Senator Manchin’s proposal, it became the Stacey Abrams substitute, not the Joe Manchin substitute.”

Mr McConnell said the campaign finance disclosure provision in the bill “subverts the First Amendment to supercharge cancel culture and the left’s name-and-shame campaign model.”

He said the compromise bill remains “an assault on the fundamental idea that states, not the federal government, should decide how to run their own elections.”

In a statement to reporters, Mr Manchin said “McConnell has the right to do whatever he thinks he can do. I would hope there’s enough good Republicans that understand the bedrock of our society is having accessible, open, fair and secure elections.”

Republican lawmakers have contended the the bill is deeply unpopular with the public – but a wide majority of Americans support key elements of the bill and believe voting should be made easier, that nonpartisan commissions should be in charge of congressional redistricting, and automatic and same-day registration should be available.

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