Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) responded Sunday to Sen. Joe Manchin, who said he would vote against a timely elections reform bill, describing the West Virginia Democrat as someone who “would rather preserve Jim Crow” under the excuse of bipartisanship.
Speaking to MSNBC’s Ali Velshi, Jones tore into Manchin’s opinion piece published Sunday morning in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, in which the moderate said he wouldn’t vote for his party’s For the People Act because it does not have the support of Republicans.
“I don’t know where to begin. It is, in the first case, intellectually unserious,” Jones said, continuing: “It is also the case that this idea of bipartisanship is not something that should have inherent value when the other side is actively working to dismantle our democracy.”
The For the People Act passed in the House and the Senate Rules Committee and is co-sponsored by every Senate Democrat except for Manchin, a moderate often seen in the Senate’s slim Democratic majority as a swing vote on important measures ― making him currently one of the most influential figures in Congress as President Joe Biden seeks to carry out his legislative agenda.
The For the People Act is expected to face a Senate filibuster, which is a procedural rule that requires 60 senators to support a piece of legislation in order to move to a vote on final passage. Republicans’ refusal to budge in their opposition combined with Manchin refusing to vote in favor of what he criticized as a “partisan” bill means that federal voting rights reform is doomed to fail.
“We have a majority; we must act now to protect our democracy, which is slipping away,” Jones told Velshi. “We’re going into a redistricting year, there’s going to be partisan gerrymandering unlike anything we’ve ever seen by the Republican Party. More Marjorie Taylor Greene’s, more Louie Gohmert’s, more Jim Jordan’s ― and now we have the opportunity to actually do something about it.”
Despite growing support among Democrats to abolish the filibuster, Manchin has remained vocally opposed to such a move ― stating in his op-ed that he “will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster” because he wants to “seek bipartisan compromise no matter how difficult and to develop the political bonds that end divisions and help unite the country we love.”
However, Republicans have already shown that they plan to pass their own partisan legislation at the state level and use the filibuster at the federal level to block any legislation that requires them to compromise. Republican state legislators across the country are passing voter suppression laws under the guise of former President Donald Trump’s lies that the 2020 election was fraudulent. Senate Republicans in Congress filibustered a bipartisan bill that would have established a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.
“I think Sen. Manchin is misrepresenting to the public exactly what’s going on here. He is not voting against H.R. 1 when he proposes to continue this filibuster,” veteran House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) told Velshi in a separate interview on Sunday. “Sen. Manchin can vote any way he wants to vote on H.R. 1 or S. 1, but he should not be allowing 60 votes to be required so that we can go to a final vote. … I don’t know that I’m smarter than Sen. Manchin, but I’m smart enough to know the difference between an up-and-down vote and a filibuster.
In addition to his appearance on Velshi’s show, Jones also made a lengthy Twitter thread unraveling and fact-checking parts of Manchin’s op-ed in an effort to show why the senator’s decision to vote against the For the People Act is what the congressman calls “dooming our democracy in the name of bipartisanship.”
“Sen. Manchin would rather preserve Jim Crow on some outdated theory of bipartisanship that frankly does not exist in the same way today as it did a generation ago before the advent of Fox News and other right-wing propaganda machines on television, and of course the rise of Donald Trump,” Jones told the MSNBC host.
“I would like to see the president rise to the occasion, to use the stature of his office, the bully pulpit, to make Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema understand that this is necessary, that this is of foundational importance,” he continued. “And yes, to educate them on the ahistorical understanding that they have of the filibuster and of what will be required to protect the right to vote in this country.”