Why Manchin Has to Vote Against H.R. 4

After passing the House last week with no Republican support, H.R. 4's next stop is the U.S. Senate. Democrats in the Senate need all the support they can get to pass H.R. 4, and at the center of this effort is the vote of Democrat Senator Joe Manchin. And as it stands now, Joe Manchin has no choice but to vote "no" on H.R. 4 based on his prior statements.

Procedurally, H.R. 4 passed the house in a way that Senator Manchin historically has opposed, namely without respect to procedural order and without a bipartisan consensus.

Earlier this year, Senator Manchin criticized Democrats' tactics in their attempt to pass H.R. 1

[S]ome Democrats have again proposed eliminating the Senate filibuster rule in order to pass the For the People Act with only Democratic support. They’ve attempted to demonize the filibuster and conveniently ignore how it has been critical to protecting the rights of Democrats in the past. . .

It has been said by much wiser people than me that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Well, what I’ve seen during my time in Washington is that every party in power will always want to exercise absolute power, absolutely. Our founders were wise to see the temptation of absolute power and built in specific checks and balances to force compromise that serves to preserve our fragile democracy. The Senate, its processes and rules, have evolved over time to make absolute power difficult while still delivering solutions to the issues facing our country and I believe that’s the Senate’s best quality.

Yes, this process can be frustrating and slow. It will force compromises that are not always ideal. But consider the alternative. Do we really want to live in an America where one party can dictate and demand everything and anything it wants, whenever it wants? I have always said, “If I can’t go home and explain it, I can’t vote for it.” And I cannot explain strictly partisan election reform or blowing up the Senate rules to expedite one party’s agenda.

But it's not just the way that the House passed H.R. 4 that should lead Manchin to oppose the bill. Manchin has routinely opposed certain substantive parts of the radical legislation.

Committee on House Administration Ranking Member Rodney Davis told the West Virginia Record:

“The legislation ignores Sen. Manchin’s request for compromise and attacks voter ID at nearly every turn,” Davis wrote in a memo. “It would require any state with a ‘strict’ voter ID law to submit its existing statute to the DOJ for clearance and would prohibit any state from strengthening or enacting a voter ID statute without preclearance.”

Davis said the current bill also makes the Attorney General essentially an Elections Czar, which is something Manchin didn’t want. He wanted to see the AG’s authority of elections reduced. . .

Manchin also wanted the removal of consent decrees from the definition of voting rights violations, but Davis said H.R. 4 currently “doubles down” on it, noting that it “specifically reiterates consent decrees, settlements or other agreements as triggers that could be included to invoke preclearance.”

Rep. Davis also pointed out how H.R. 4 runs afoul of Manchin's wishes to establish "objective measures for voting discrimination" and Manchin's concerns over the standard for granting preliminary relief.

As RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wrote in The Hill:

Democrats are revealing their true intentions, and Americans ought to pay attention. This far-left party has no interest in promoting safe, secure, transparent elections. They don’t care that Americans support commonsense fixes to the voting process. Democrats find the concept of local leaders passing legislation without the approval of D.C. bureaucrats inherently offensive. Joe Biden thinks that the federal government should play a massive role in your day-to-day life — especially when it comes to how you cast your ballot. Americans will reject H.R. 4 just like they rejected H.R. 1 because freedom still matters.

Joe Manchin should stand up to the radical takeover being pushed by Democrats, stick to his longstanding principles, and vote "no" on H.R. 4.