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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks at a press conference

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks to reporters after a Republican Senate luncheon at the U.S. Capitol Building on June 15, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

McConnell Makes Clear 'All Republicans Will Oppose' Manchin Voting Rights Compromise

"The idea that Manchin can pass a law to protect the vote with help from the very people it needs protecting from is suspect at best."

Jake Johnson

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell unequivocally declared Thursday that Republicans will support neither the original For the People Act nor a watered-down version offered by Sen. Joe Manchin, who has continued to insist that bipartisan compromise on voting rights is achievable despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

"Republicans aren't interested in passing laws that protect our right to vote, because they're the ones actively attacking that right in 43+ states."
—Progress Arizona

During a press conference flanked by fellow Senate Republicans, McConnell (R-Ky.) said that the For the People Act (pdf) and Manchin's proposed alternative are "equally unacceptable" and "totally inappropriate."

"All Republicans will oppose that," McConnell added, referring to redistricting reforms and campaign finance disclosure rules that Manchin endorsed in a memo (pdf) outlining provisions of the For the People Act that he is willing to support ahead of an expected vote on the bill later this month.

The West Virginia Democrat's memo—which drew criticism from progressive lawmakers—also calls for the inclusion of voter ID requirements "with allowable alternatives" such as a utility bill, a proposal viewed as a sop to Republican lawmakers.

"The problem is, Manchin's approach allows the GOP to compromise our democracy," tweeted Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.). "Anyway, how many Republicans will Manchin's 'compromise' bring on board? The same number who support the For the People Act: 0. We can't compromise with the GOP when they won't even come to the negotiating table. When will we learn our lesson?"

In a statement on Thursday, McConnell proclaimed that Manchin's compromise version of the For the People Act "retains S. 1's rotten core: an assault on the fundamental idea that states, not the federal government, should decide how to run their own elections."

"In reality, the plan endorsed by Stacey Abrams is no compromise," said McConnell, referring to the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate's comments in support of Manchin's proposal. "It still subverts the First Amendment to supercharge cancel culture and the left's name-and-shame campaign model."

McConnell's position appeared to leave little doubt that Republicans will remain unanimously opposed to the popular voting rights legislation when it hits the Senate floor later this month.

But in response to the Republican leader's remarks, Manchin—the only Democratic senator who has yet to co-sponsor S. 1—signaled that he still believes Democrats can win over some GOP lawmakers to the proposed expansion of ballot access.

"McConnell has a right to do whatever he thinks he can do," Manchin told reporters Thursday. "I would hope that there's enough good Republicans who understand the bedrock of our society is having an accessible, fair, open, election."

Last month, the West Virginia senator similarly expressed "faith" that there were "ten good people" on the Republican side who would approve a commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection. Just six Republicans ultimately joined Democrats in voting to advance the commission bill, leaving the Senate four votes short of breaking the 60-vote legislative filibuster—an archaic rule that Manchin has repeatedly vowed to uphold.

"There will not be 10 votes to reinforce American democracy from a party that has radicalized against American democracy as one of its central ordering principles," MSNBC's Chris Hayes tweeted Thursday.

If passed, the For the People Act would help neutralize the hundreds of voter suppression measures that Republicans are rushing to enact in states across the country—which, according to analysts, is all the more reason to believe that the congressional GOP will continue to oppose the bill regardless of Manchin's proposed changes.

As Vanity Fair's Eric Lutz put it on Thursday, "The idea that Manchin can pass a law to protect the vote with help from the very people it needs protecting from is suspect at best."


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