Manchin says he doesn’t support DC statehood, election reform bills


Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinAmericans for Prosperity launches campaign targeting six Democrats to keep filibuster Harris, senators work behind scenes on jobs package Senate approves Gayle Manchin to serve on Appalachian board MORE (D-W.Va.) said on Friday that he does not support a House-passed D.C. statehood bill, or a sweeping bill to overhaul federal elections.

Manchin’s comments, made during a radio interview with West Virginia MetroNews’ Hoppy Kercheval, underscore how some of Democrats’ biggest priorities face headaches even if they got rid of the 60-vote legislative filibuster — something they don’t currently have the support to do.

Manchin, asked about a bill to grant D.C. statehood, said the idea had been studied by previous Justice Departments.

“They all came to the same conclusion: If Congress wants to make D.C. a state, it should propose a constitutional amendment … and let the people of America vote,” Manchin said.

Pressed if he would oppose a stand-alone bill, Manchin added “Yes, I would.”

“I would tell all my friends … if you go down that path because you want to be politically popular … you know it’s going to go to the Supreme Court,” Manchin said. “So why not do it the right way?”

The House passed legislation earlier this month to make D.C the country’s 51st state, the second time the House has passed the bill in two years. But even before Manchin said on Friday that he would vote against it, it already faced big roadblocks in the Senate. 

To pass the Senate it would currently need to get 60 votes, including support of 10 Republicans. But, in a blow to progressives, even if Democrats were able to get rid of the filibuster — something they don’t currently have the support for — the D.C. statehood bill does not have the backing of the 50 Democrats it would need to pass.

In addition to Manchin, Sens. Angus KingAngus KingOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court sets in motion EPA ban on pesticide linked to developmental issues | Trump Interior Secretary Zinke files to run for Congress, again | Senate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill Overnight Defense: Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform | US troops begin leaving Afghanistan | Biden budget delay pushes back annual defense policy bill Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform MORE (I-Maine), Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaAmericans split on filibuster reform: survey The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden to take stock, revive push for big government Sinema at center of filibuster storm in Arizona MORE (D-Ariz.), Mark KellyMark KellyOvernight Defense: Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform | US troops begin leaving Afghanistan | Biden budget delay pushes back annual defense policy bill Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform Mark Kelly: I didn’t hear plan for border in Biden speech MORE (D-Ariz.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Defense: Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform | US troops begin leaving Afghanistan | Biden budget delay pushes back annual defense policy bill Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform US investigating possible ‘Havana syndrome’ attack near White House: CNN MORE (D-N.H.) have not signed on as cosponsors.

Manchin, during Friday’s radio interview, also said that he would vote against a sweeping election overhaul bill known as the For the People Act if it was brought to the floor in its current form. The bill is considered a top priority for Democrats and Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerVictims’ relatives hold Capitol Hill meetings to push police reform Senate hears from Biden’s high-profile judicial nominees for first time Nonprofit with ties to Biden 2020 campaign rolls out voting rights initiative MORE (D-N.Y.) has pledged to give it a vote.

“It’s a far reaching 800-page bill that I do not support in its totality,” Manchin said. “As it exists today I would not be able to support that bill and I would vote no. I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

Manchin instead signaled that he thought Congress should take up legislation to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act and noted that he was talking with Rep. Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos ClyburnTroy Carter wins race to fill Cedric Richmond’s Louisiana House seat Progressives put Democrats on defense Bernie Sanders says he disagrees with Tlaib’s call for ‘no more police’ MORE (D-S.C.) about voting and election legislation and that they were moving “in a very progressive way.”

“The vote should be accessible, it should be secure and it should be fair,” Manchin said.

Manchin, one of the caucus’s most conservative members, is a key vote in Democrats’ pledge to enact a “bold” agenda as they control both the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade.

He’s already flexed his political muscle this year. He helped sink Neera TandenNeera TandenManchin floats breaking up Biden’s infrastructure proposal 100 days is a ridiculous way to judge a presidency Five ways an obscure Senate ruling could change Washington MORE‘s nomination to be the Office of Management and Budget director, held Biden’s coronavirus proposal in limbo for hours as he negotiated changes to the unemployment language and was one of several Democrats who opposed a $15 per hour minimum wage.

He’s also signaling that he wants to break up Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal into smaller pieces, even as a growing number of Democrats indicate that they are ready to pass it as one bill and without GOP support.

Asked on Friday if the $2.3 trillion bill was too big, Manchin responded: “In one chunk? Absolutely.”

“I think we should look at what we call conventional infrastructure,” he said.

—Updated at 4:47 p.m.





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