Following Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) meeting with civil right leaders on Tuesday morning, NAACP President Derrick Johnson said he believes that the centrist senator is “conflicted” about the sweeping voting rights bill that he declared his opposition to because of his commitment to preserving the filibuster.
Manchin participated in a virtual meeting with several civil rights organizations on Tuesday morning. The meeting included Johnson, National Urban League President Marc Morial, and Reverend Al Sharpton; as well as representatives from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, National Council of Negro Women and National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.
Asked about the meeting during an interview on CBS News later Tuesday, Johnson said that he was “encouraged” by Manchin’s willingness to “have a dialogue” and the senator’s support for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Johnson believes that although Manchin understands both the “gravity” and “urgency” to pass voting rights legislation, the senator is “conflicted” because of his refusal to nix the filibuster that provides roadblocks to passing Democrats’ legislation in a 50-50 Senate.
“Quite frankly, he’s conflicted. He understands the need to protect the right to vote, but he is committed to the procedural rules of the Senate out of concern that if they are eroded today on one side of the aisle, they’ll be used against the other side of the aisle in the future,” Johnson said. “Now is the opportunity to figure out: how do we overcome that conflict?”
Pressed on whether Manchin’s commitment to preserving the filibuster came up during the meeting, Johnson didn’t give a clear answer, but acknowledged that the procedure is “part of the conflict” that is “obvious.”
“It is the role for the civil rights community to work as hard as possible to overcome that conflict,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s remarks were made after Manchin praised the Tuesday morning meeting with civil right leaders as “constructive” and “informative,” while maintaining his opposition to the House-passed For the People Act.
“I don’t think anybody changed positions on that. We’re just learning where everybody’s coming from,” Manchin told reporters after the meeting.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki also signaled that the Biden administration hasn’t given up hopes of working with Manchin to push voting rights legislation through Congress, despite how the centrist senator created a legislative logjam with his opposition to the sweeping voting rights bill that his Democratic colleagues have been pushing.
After telling reporters it was “encouraging” to see Manchin engage with civil rights groups on Tuesday, Psaki went on to say that the White House will “continue to seek ways” to work with Manchin even in areas of disagreement.
Watch Johnson’s remarks below:
After meeting with Sen. Joe Manchin, NAACP Pres. Derrick Johnson tells @nikolendc that Manchin is “conflicted” about the Democrats’ voting rights bill.
"He understands the need to protect the right to vote, but he’s committed to the procedural rules of the Senate,” Johnson says. pic.twitter.com/7rSl2oRTuC
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 8, 2021