GOP Senators Express Skepticism on Manchin Voting-Bill Compromise

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) talks to reporters as he departs the U.S. Capitol after a vote in the Senate, June 10, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

Two Republican senators expressed skepticism on Sunday toward Senator Joe Manchin’s (D., W.Va.) compromise outline for Democrats’ voting legislation.

The “For the People Act,” passed by the House earlier this year, aims to federalize control of various elections procedures, including ending states’ ability to draw political districts. While Manchin has said he would not vote for the legislation as written, he has proposed changes to the legislation that would make election day a federal holiday, allow 15 days of early voting for federal elections, and attempt to ban partisan gerrymandering of districts.

However, Senators Ron Portman (R., Ohio) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said that the compromise still represents a transfer of power from the states to the federal government.

“Unfortunately, what he does is what the larger bill . . . does, which is it takes the election system in this country and federalize it, so it’s a federal takeover of our election system,” Portman told host Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press. “In this case, what he’s saying to the state of Ohio or your state of Florida [is] ‘We’re gonna decide how redistricting is done. We’re gonna take it away from the democracy, in effect.’”

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Graham echoed Portman’s comments in an interview on Fox News Sunday.

“I like Joe Manchin a lot, but we had the largest turnout in the history the United States, and states are in charge of voting in America, so I don’t like the idea of taking the power to redistrict away from the state legislators,” Graham said.

“Under [Manchin’s] proposal, you’d have some kind of commission redraw the new districts, and I don’t like that,” added Graham. “I want states where people are moving to have control over how to allocate new congressional seats.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said last week that Republicans would oppose Manchin’s compromise proposal.

“There is no rational basis for the federal government to take over all of American elections,” McConnell said on Wednesday. “All Republicans, I think, will oppose that . . . if that were to be surfaced on the floor.”

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