As Landon noted yesterday, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia officially slammed the door on his party's egregious elections takeover bill, commonly known as H.R. 1. This is excellent news for the country, as the legislation represented a dreadful dog's breakfast of proposals that would consolidate far too much power in Washington, force taxpayers to fund the campaigns of politicians they oppose, reduce and eliminate state-level voter integrity efforts, and make permanent a number of questionable "emergency" balloting provisions, among many flaws. For all the attention paid to the filibuster – which we'll address further in a moment – it's now clear that Senate Democrats lack even a simple majority in support of their partisan push. In an op/ed, Manchin explained why he's a hard no:
Democrats in Congress have proposed a sweeping election reform bill called the For the People Act. This more than 800-page bill has garnered zero Republican support...voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen. With that in mind, some Democrats have again proposed eliminating the Senate filibuster rule in order to pass the For the People Act with only Democratic support. They’ve attempted to demonize the filibuster and conveniently ignore how it has been critical to protecting the rights of Democrats in the past. As a reminder, just four short years ago, in 2017 when Republicans held control of the White House and Congress, President Donald Trump was publicly urging Senate Republicans to eliminate the filibuster. Then, it was Senate Democrats who were proudly defending the filibuster. Thirty-three Senate Democrats penned a letter to Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warning of the perils of eliminating the filibuster...I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster. For as long as I have the privilege of being your U.S. senator, I will fight to represent the people of West Virginia, to seek bipartisan compromise no matter how difficult and to develop the political bonds that end divisions and help unite the country we love.
As Allahpundit points out, Manchin is also ruling out moving the bar for any other version of "election reform" legislation. We've mentioned that 2017 letter on multiple occasions to illustrate Democrats' breathtaking hypocrisy and shamelessness on the issue of the filibuster. Manchin is right:
...Hirono, Donnelly, Tester, Carper, Harris, Hassan, Nelson, Duckworth, Kaine, Reed, Markey, Stabenow, Whitehouse, Menendez. 2/2 End. https://t.co/4xHZyROW7t— Byron York (@ByronYork) June 6, 2021
Manchin is one of the few who's been consistent on this, and that consistency is dashing his party's designs on a brazen power grab. H.R. 1 is dead. And so, it would seem, are any radical bills that would require the elimination of the filibuster for party-line passage. Democrats have a handful of "reconciliation" opportunities available to them (though a more limited number than they'd hoped) through which they could pass certain budget-related measures. But many of their extreme and ambitious agenda items do not qualify as eligible. "Journalist" activists and their leftist brethren who have been relentlessly lobbying Manchin and Krysten Sinema to reverse their positions on the filibuster in order to facilitate the passage of "progressive" priorities are taking this development hard:
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he will not vote for the Democrats’ far-reaching bill to combat voter suppression and restore ethical controls on the presidency shattered by Donald Trump. https://t.co/weiP8TKCRc— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 6, 2021
That is an absolutely preposterous framing of H.R. 1, which could have been churned out by a left-wing agitation group. It's certainly not journalism. The reality here is that Manchin has been telegraphing this outcome for quite some time, and these observations are correct:
The thing to keep in in the back of your mind on every Manchin heel turn, where he seems to be the one guy standing in the way of total victory, is that more often than not he's a stalking horse for broader unease. He just gets more political mileage out of taking it public. https://t.co/qnW2wljVxH— Liam Donovan (@LPDonovan) June 6, 2021
Josh is right. Hill staff learn that there are 3 kinds of bills, each crafted with their own unique process:— Brian Riedl ?? (@Brian_Riedl) June 6, 2021
1) Unserious messaging bills.
2) Serious party-line bills.
3) Serious bipartisan bills.
HR. 1 is an obvious #1. The infrastructure proposals are a #2 (hence, no Rs) https://t.co/KCaSMF8thK
Manchin is helping his own brand back home by sticking to his guns, but he's also doing a solid on behalf of other Democrats who are actually uncomfortable with the bill, but do not feel free to make their concerns public, fearing a furious backlash from the base. The backlash will now be aimed squarely at one or two Senators who actually benefit from it. I'll leave you with this, which may emerge as an interesting dynamic in a key Senate contest that could be very competitive next year:
Maggie Hassan, the most vulnerable Democrat in the Senate, now supports abolishing the filibuster.— Eric Cunningham (@decunningham2) June 4, 2021
She won her last race by just over 1,000 votes and will likely face Governor Chris Sununu, who won re-election in 2020 by almost 252,009 votes. https://t.co/Yj0ZN1AEFc