Voting bill faces a divided Senate

Sanders won't say if he'll support Manchin's voting rights compromise

Manchin, who had been the caucus' lone holdout, Democrats can now present a united front in supporting the bill, creating a contrast with Republicans whom they plan to bludgeon on the campaign trail over the measure.

While Manchin's vote on the motion to proceed Tuesday willgive an indication on where he personally stands on the larger piece of legislation, it doesn't change the fact that Democrats remain 10 GOP allies short to begin debate, let alone vote, on the bill.

Republican lawmakers have rebuked the sweeping legislation, while Democrats argue it is a necessary counterweight to various restrictive voting measures red states are imposing.

It comes as Republican-led states advance proposals - which Mr Biden has depicted as racially discriminatory - to tighten election laws, and as former President Donald Trump, a Republican, continues to peddle unfounded claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain tweeted that President Joe Biden isn't done with pushing the legislation. "This fight is far from over-far from over", Mr. Biden said in a statement after the vote.

It wasn't immediately unclear what changes Democrats agreed to.

But last week, Manchin floated a compromise proposal, which includes automatic voter registration through state motor vehicle departments, mandating at least 15 days of early voting for federal elections, banning partisan gerrymandering and making Election Day a public holiday.

The president's party argued the almost 900-page proposal was critical to democracy, and would safeguard voting access for black voters. Republicans are calling attention to a provision in the Democrats' bill that would allow signatures in lieu of voter identification cards, saying such a policy could be abused and would weaken trust in the validity of elections.

What the liberals hoped for, however, was that an intensive, ultimately unsuccessful lobbying effort would pave the way for reforming the Senate rules.

Despite their best efforts, no Republican was willing to support the bill.

Whether that was ever a possibility is debatable. "And we will continue on in every way we can".

"Equally unacceptable, totally inappropriate", Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters on Thursday. Mr. Cruz accused Democrats of "deliberately inflaming racial tensions" by attacking policies like requiring voter identification that Republicans say are created to protect the integrity of the vote.

West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin previously opposed the legislation because it didn't have bipartisan support, choosing instead to support a narrower bill named after the late civil rights icon John Lewis. Democrats were forced to use budget reconciliation to pass the bill.

"He's not absent, but he needs to be a lot more vocal and a lot more out front", said Jamaal Bowman, a NY congressman, on CNN.

President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats have said that passing the "For the People Act" is needed after GOP-led state Legislatures passed election integrity measures of their own in recent months. Democrats themselves used the filibuster to block Republican bills during Mr Trump's presidency.

If the filibuster remains intact, a question mark hangs over much of Mr Biden's political agenda. We urgently need the For The People Act.

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