With Democrats ready to take the bills in earnest, Senate Republicans led by minority leader Mitch McConnell have expressed openness to changing the Electoral Counting Act of 1887, which outlines the certification process for the presidential election. Democrats, including the White House, considered this narrow focus entirely insufficient and an attempt to divert attention from more comprehensive reforms. Meanwhile, Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) says he would support some changes to Senate rules, but not repeal or rule out the legislative block. Manchin, along with another centrist Senator Kirsten Senema (D-Arizona), is also in talks with a bipartisan group of senators about options for strengthening the electoral counting law.
Representative Jim Claiburn (DS.C), a White House confidant and a third-ranked Democrat, derided Manchin’s argument that changes to Senate rules should be bipartisan, saying “we don’t have enough Democrats out there to touch the history of this country, Or they will stop saying some of that crap.”
“I am, you know, a black person, descended from people who got the vote under the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Fifteenth Amendment wasn’t a bipartisan vote, it was a one-party vote that gave blacks the right to vote,” Clipburn said. “Manchin and others need to stop saying that because it would cause me too much pain for someone to suggest that the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was illegitimate because it did not have bipartisan approval.”
Asked about Democrats like Mansion and Cinema wanting support across the aisle, Richmond said it would be unrealistic to expect Republicans to attend when they vote against the bills so far.
“These laws have been passed in all these Republican legislatures to restrict the right to vote, put obstacles in the way of the right to vote to sabotage the vote, and they have all been made on a party basis with only Republican votes,” Richmond said. That on a partisan basis will come in Congress and vote for protection from it, may not be realistic.”
Manchin’s office declined to comment.
For Georgia Democrats, the debate over passing electoral reforms is particularly acute as the state’s Republicans have introduced a raft of changes. A reconfigured political landscape — two victories in the Senate last year a day before the Washington Capitol rebellion breathed new life into Biden’s agenda — combined to raise the stakes.
Representative Nikima Williams (D-J.), who was in touch with the White House prior to the visit, said she expects Biden to provide details about how he plans to advance the issue.
“Coming into Atlanta, I think, coming to the Fifth Congressional District, I’m sitting in the seat once occupied by Congressman John Lewis,” Williams said. We are the cradle of the civil rights movement. You don’t come to Atlanta just for another speech. This is about work. ”
It can’t come soon enough for Democrats in her state. Notably, a Republican-backed 2021 Georgia law signed after Biden’s victory, among other things, limits absentee voting boxes to early voting locations, requires an additional ID for absentee voting and allows state takeover of district elections.