Joe Manchin agreed Tuesday to vote with his fellow Democrats to begin debate on the voting rights bill – but 10 Republicans would still need to hop on board to progress the legislation.
'Today I will vote 'YES' to move to debate this updated voting legislation as a substitute amendment to ensure every eligible voter is able to cast their ballot and participate in our great democracy,' the West Virginia centrist Democrat said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said: 'We worked it out.'
The bill, however, needs 60 votes to avoid a filibuster and allow the Senate to begin debating the measure – and not one Republican has said they will join the 50 Democrats in voting to move forward.
Manchin previously said he would not vote for the partisan bill, and didn't seem convinced otherwise after a meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House on Monday.
Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, pictured at the Capitol on June 22, said Tuesday that he will vote with his party to progress the For the People voting rights bill
'We worked it out,' Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday. But Democrats still need 10 Republicans to support the bill to avoid a filibuster and start debate
But Schumer now appears to have reached a deal with Manchin so Democrats can present a united front on expanding voter rights and access.
Manchin was the only Democratic hold out.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell ripped the proposal as a 'transparently partisan' effort showing the left's 'disdain' for Americans.
'Many Democrats would pass [H.R.1] with the slimmest possible majority, even after its companion faced bipartisan opposition over in the House,' McConnell said from the Senate floor on Tuesday.
'What a craven political calculation. What a way to show your disdain for the American people's choices,' he added.
Schumer will bring a procedural vote to the floor Tuesday evening to begin debate on the For the People Act. The measure is all but certain to fail.
In remarks from the Senate floor on Tuesday, Schumer blamed Trump for Republican opposition to the bill.
'Donald Trump, fresh off a resounding loss in the 2020 presidential election, cried foul and lied — lied — that the election was stolen from him, like a petulant child,' the New York Democrat said.
'There is a rot at the center of the modern Republican Party,' he continued. 'Donald Trump's big lie has spread like a cancer and threatens to envelop one of America's major political parties.'
Mitch McConnell (left) said from the Senate floor Tuesday that Democrats' voting rights bill is 'transparently partisan' and shows the left's 'disdain' for Americans. Schumer blamed Trump for the GOP opposing the legislation. 'There is a rot at the center of the modern Republican Party,' he said
'Even worse, it has poisoned our democracy, eroded faith in our elections, which is so detrimental to the future faith people need to have in our democracy,' Schumer said. 'And of course, it became the match that lit a wildfire of Republican voter suppression laws sweeping across the country. Because of one man's lie, Republicans are now doing the dastardly act of taking away voting from millions of Americans, making it much harder for them to vote, and many, many will not.'
He repeated the sentiment on Twitter and added: 'Republicans claim they're making it easier to vote and harder to cheat in an election. But in reality, they are making it harder to vote and easier to steal an election.'
Republicans are moving to block the progressive priority by forcing a filibuster. All 50 Democrats in the upper chamber would need to garner support from 10 Republicans to avoid a filibuster.
'Later today, the Senate will vote on whether to advance Democrats' transparently partisan plan to tilt every election in America permanently in their favor,' McConnell said Tuesday. 'By now, the rotten, inner-workings of this power grab have been thoroughly exposed to the light.'
Biden met with Manchin at the White House on Monday afternoon, and Schumer said Tuesday that the centrist senator is now on board with voting for the bill.
McConnell blasted the legislation Monday as a 'disastrous proposal' that will get 'no quarter' in the Senate.
'They've made it abundantly clear that the real driving force behind S1 is a desire to rig the rules of American elections permanently, permanently in Democrats' favor,' McConnell said of Democrats' efforts.
Schumer is bringing a vote to the floor Tuesday on a motion to begin debate on the amended version of legislation that passed the House in March.
The procedural vote, however, would need 60 votes to succeed – and there is no indication any Republican senators will support the bill, let alone 10.
Manchin previously said he opposes the bill, arguing that any major voting or election legislation must have bipartisan support, or else he will go against it. With a 50-50 split Senate, any single Democratic defector could kill a bill.
President Barack Obama also weighed into the debate by citing the Capitol Riot as a reason to support the legislation and 'not take Democracy for granted'.
'The violence that occurred in the US Capitol on January 6, just a few months ago, should remind us that we can't take our democracy for granted,' Obama said on a call with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee on Monday.
'Around the world, we have seen once vibrant democracies go into reverse, locking in power for a small group of powerful autocrats and business interests and locking out of the political process dissidents and protestors and opposition parties and the voices of ordinary people.
'It is happening in other places around the world and these impulses have crept into the United States. We are not immune from some of these efforts to weaken our democracy.'
Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (left) still wasn't sure as of Monday evening if he would support the bill, even after meeting with President Joe Biden (right) at the White House earlier that afternoon
Obama also said he supported Manchin's compromises on the bill and praised him for trying to 'come up with some common-sense reforms that the majority of Americans agree with.
Manchin suggested making voter registration automatic, setting Election Day as a holiday, requiring at least 15 days of early voting for federal elections and reducing partisan gerrymandering. But he also said voter ID regulations should be stricter – a measure his Democrat colleagues oppose.
After his meeting with the president on Monday evening, Manchin said he still wasn't sure if he would vote to advance the bill.
'I got to see. I hope they make some changes or agree to some changes,' Manchin said at the Capitol.
'I think we put out an awful lot of good changes, I think, hopefully, the country would agree ... that makes a lot of sense for a lot of voters,' he continued.
A White House official said during the meeting Monday, Biden 'expressed his sincere appreciation for Senator Manchin's efforts to achieve reform.'
'The President conveyed that he sees voting rights as one of the most urgent issues facing our nation during his administration, and made it clear how important he thinks it is that the Senate find a path forward on this issue,' the official continued in a statement on the meeting between the two. ' They also discussed bipartisan negotiations on infrastructure.'
Biden also met with Senator Kyrsten Sinema at the White House on Monday. The Arizona Democrat has also emerged as a moderate voice in the party who could derail legislation as the party holds power in the legislative and executive branches.
The 900-page For the People Act would need to overcome a filibuster by Republicans to reach debate on the Senate floor. The procedural vote requires 60 backers to avoid a filibuster, but if the bill were to make it to the floor, only 51 votes are needed to get it passed into law.
Vice President Kamala Harris acts as the tie-breaking vote in the Senate.
Democrats have been working hard to get rid of the filibuster as part of other legislation, something Republicans and some Democrats – including Manchin and Sinema – opposed fervently.
'The filibuster compels moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings,' Sinema wrote Monday in an op/ed for The Washington Post.
She welcomed a full debate on the voting bill 'so senators and our constituents can hear and fully consider the concerns and consequences.'
'My support for retaining the 60-vote threshold is not based on the importance of any particular policy. It is based on what is best for our democracy,' Sinema wrote. 'The filibuster compels moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings between opposing policy poles.'
Sinema urged her colleagues to see that if the filibuster is revoked, it could be used against them in the future when Republicans once again hold a majority in the Senate.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would continue to push for voting rights legislation even if a test vote fails in the Senate Tuesday. She also said Manchin's compromise idea was a 'step forward'
Backers of the voting bill claim it is an extension of civil rights that gets rid of laws that make it harder for some Americans to cast a ballot, but critics claim it's just another example of federal overreach.
Manchin proposed some changes to the bill last week that he feels would garner more bipartisan support, including adding a provision for a national voter ID requirement to vote and dropping a proposed public financing of campaigns.
While his version of the bill was well received by the Biden administration as a 'step forward', it did not garner the support of progressive Democrats.
'It's a step forward,' White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during Monday's press briefing.
'We don't expect there to be a magical 10 votes. I'm not suggesting that. But just two weeks ago, there were questions about whether Democrats would be aligned,' she added.
'If the vote is unsuccessful tomorrow, we suspect it will prompt a new conversation about the path forward and we'll see where that goes,' Psaki predicted.