Sen. Manchin to meet with civil rights leaders after bucking H.R.1 voting bill

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Civil rights leaders will participate in a virtual meeting with Senator Joe Manchin to push for voting rights legislation. Derrick Johnson of the NAACP, Al Sharpton of the National Action Network, Melanie Campbell of the Black Women’s Roundtable, and Marc Morial of the National Urban League are slated to join. 

Sen. Joe Manchin and Al Sharpton, theGrio.com
Sen. Joe Manchin and Al Sharpton (Photo: Getty Images)

West Virginia’s Democratic Senator Manchin has already publicly announced his plan to oppose the For the People Act and rebuff the White House’s push for its passage.

The civil rights leaders headed to the Hill are more in alignment than not with the White House on the matter, however, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki would not comment to theGrio on the leaders’ meeting with Manchin, which takes place on Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Over the weekend Manchin, wrote in an op-ed, “I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of 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.”

In an effort to lean in harder for the passage of the bill, voting rights has been added to Vice President Kamala Harris’ portfolio. This move marks another attempt by the White House to convince Manchin to support the legislation. 

There also are attempts to soften Manchin’s heart through the Conference of National Black Churches who are working with Black churches in West Virginia to advocate for voting rights protections. 

If the United States does not have sound voting rights laws in place, the issue stands to become a national security liability.

Jake Sullivan, national security advisor to the president told theGrio on Monday during a White House press briefing, “there is a national security dimension of this today as there was decades ago.”  

“We are in a competition with models with autocracies. We are trying to show the world American democracy and democracy writ large can work and can effectively deliver the will of the people,” Sullivan added. “And to the extent that we are not updating, refurbishing, revamping our own democratic processes and procedures to meet the moment, then we are not going to be successful to meet the needs of the rest of the world, to China to Russia, to anyone else.”

The fight over voting rights shows the system has broken since the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013, the Supreme Court gutted the preclearance portion of the voting rights act and now states are creating their own laws without the previously enforced U.S. Justice Department approval, which ensures a person’s civil rights are not violated — particularly the rights of Black Americans in southern states where the systems of slavery and Jim Crow were most prevalent.

The current voting rights bills do not allow for turning over the new restrictive voting laws in states like Georgia and Florida.

LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fun and Black Voters Matter Capacity, told theGrio, “we actually have created a political system that lends itself to strengthening electoral wins, but not in terms of creating and strengthening democracy.”

“We have work that we have to do to really be able to put in place the kind of political infrastructure that would lend itself to developing a democracy that is equitable and inclusive. And we currently do not have that,” added Brown.

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