Abrams Gives Manchin’s Voting Proposals A Thumbs Up: ‘Absolutely’ Supports Compromise

Stacey Abrams (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
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June 17, 2021 10:48 a.m.

Prominent voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams threw her support behind Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) rundown of voting measures he’d support Thursday morning, saying she “absolutely” supports the compromise. 

“What Senator Manchin is putting forward are some basic building blocks we need to ensure that democracy is accessible no matter your geography,” she said on CNN. 

When pressed about the voter ID provisions of his proposal, she waved off assumptions that she’d be against them. 

“That’s one of the fallacies of Republican talking points that have been deeply disturbing — no one has ever objected to having to prove who you are to vote,” she said. “I support voter identification. I reject restrictive voter identification designed to keep people out of the process.”

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Abrams’ support of the voter ID proposal in Manchin’s memo may prove to be important to Democrats considering whether to support it, as many of them are wary of voter ID restrictions often used to make it more difficult to vote. 

In his memo, Manchin also throws his support behind major planks of the For the People Act, also known as S1 —  which he opposes in its current form — including its mandates for early voting, automatic voter registration and ban of partisan gerrymandering. He also opposes S1’s requirement that states offer no-excuse absentee voting, and seeks to water down sections of the John Lewis Voting Act. 

It’s not clear how many, if any, of these changes can be put into S1 before the planned vote next week. Multiple Democratic senators told TPM after their Tuesday lunch that they expected the vote to go ahead as planned, even given Manchin’s opposition to the current bill. 

While Manchin’s cooperation is vital to Democrats’ efforts to pass the bill, it’s not enough. With the legislative filibuster in place, largely thanks to Manchin’s protection of it, the bill would require 10 Republican votes to pass. No Republican senators support it publicly, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is holding a press conference Thursday afternoon where he’ll likely hammer his criticisms. 

Manchin, as captured in audio obtained by the Intercept Wednesday, actually does support some reforms to the filibuster, a stark difference from his current public posture. 

In the audio, he expressed interest in lowering the threshold for the cloture vote from its current 60 votes to 55, along with the minority having to put up 41 votes to sustain the filibuster rather than the majority having to rustle up 60 votes to defeat it.

“Right now, 60 is where I planted my flag, but as long as they know that I’m going to protect this filibuster, we’re looking at good solutions,” he said. “I think, basically, it should be [that] 41 people have to force the issue versus the 60 that we need in the affirmative. So find 41 in the negative.”

“I think one little change that could be made right now is basically anyone who wants to filibuster ought to be required to go to the floor and basically state your objection and why you’re filibustering and also state what you think needs to change that’d fix it, so you would support it,” he added, expressing support for a reform colloquially called the “talking filibuster.”

He does not, however, make it clear what it would take for him to enact the reforms he feels open to, and elsewhere during the audio encourages donors to pressure pliable Republicans to support the January 6 commission as to not strengthen Democrats’ argument for nixing the filibuster. 

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