Democrats stuck on voting rights -- and maybe more: The Note

It's more a standstill than a standoff, and Dems have their own members to blame

June 07, 2021, 5:59 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It's not so much a standoff as it is a standstill. And Democrats can blast Republicans -- but really they have their own members to blame.

Sen. Joe Manchin's surprise op-ed in a home-state newspaper over the weekend didn't actually stake out new ground on either his opposition to a voting-rights overhaul or on preserving the filibuster.

But the timing, at the start of the week that might mark the last chance for bipartisan achievements for the foreseeable future, makes it matter. Also significant: Manchin is casting his objections to H.R. 1 not over policy differences but by specifically citing the lack of Republican support for the bill.

"The truth, I would argue, is that voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen," wrote Manchin, D-W.Va.

PHOTO: Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., talks to ABC News congressional correspondent Rachel Scott while walking down the hall of the Dirksen Senate Office Building on May 27, 2021 in Washington.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., talks to ABC News congressional correspondent Rachel Scott while walking down the hall of the Dirksen Senate Office Building on May 27, 2021 in Washington.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris is less than a week into her new role in helping pass bills in this area, and H.R. 1 is already effectively dead. Attention will now turn to the far less-sweeping John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which Manchin has suggested he’s open to supporting.

More broadly, Manchin's stance gives Senate Republicans effective veto power over any voting-rights legislation, and potentially far more than that. Manchin's message is clear: Months of pressure on him and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., hasn't worked.

With Democrats controlling Washington since January, attempts by the White House and congressional moderates to pursue bipartisanship has often been cast as a choice.

But the reality of a 50-50 Senate is that Democrats need unanimity to pursue the Biden agenda without GOP support. On that count, they're no closer than they were Jan. 20.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is wielding her progressive political influence in her hometown and the nation’s largest city. She endorsed city council candidates and progressive New York mayoral candidate Maya Wiley.

"Maya Wiley is our number one choice," she said Saturday. "We have already tried Giuliani's New York. What that got us was a New York that was harder to afford and a New York that criminalized young people and put them into lifelong carceral cycles. It ends now. These are the stakes. Maya Wiley the one. She will be a progressive in Gracie Mansion."

The endorsements coming through her Courage to Change PAC, which seeks to uplift candidates that support policies like the Green New Deal, "Medicare for All," reallocating police funding, and abolishing ICE.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks during a press conference at Jacobi Hospital on June 3, 2021 in the Bronx borough of New York City.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks during a press conference at Jacobi Hospital on June 3, 2021 in the Bronx borough of New York City.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

In New York, one of the country’s most liberal cities, Ocasio-Cortez’s approval is badge of honor. While in other parts of the country, Ocasio-Cortez’s support is a poison pill.

Democratic lawmakers from other parts of the country reportedly returned AOC’s donations, fearful of backlash from the GOP. The party often cites Ocasio-Cortez when demonizing the left.

The impact of Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement remain to be seen. Early voting in the New York mayoral primary starts on June 12. Primary election day is slated for June 22.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

It's been eight months since Joe Biden won the presidency, yet his predecessor -- and his most ardent supporters -- continue to contest the results of the 2020 election.

In his first major appearance since his Conservative Political Action Conference speech, former President Donald Trump on Saturday cemented his looming presence over his party as he continued to baselessly push conspiracies about last year's election. Trump praised the so-called "audits" in the battlegrounds of Arizona and Georgia and called for other states to follow suit.

Former President Donald Trump stands on stage during an appearance at the North Carolina GOP convention dinner in Greenville, North Carolina, on June 5, 2021.
Former President Donald Trump stands on stage during an appearance at the North Carolina GOP convention dinner in Greenville, North Carolina, on June 5, 2021.
Jonathan Drake/Reuters

Hours before Trump delivered those remarks, one of his most vocal supporters in Pennsylvania, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, told supporters at a rally in Harrisburg that he wanted Pennsylvania to conduct its own review. Mastriano was one of a handful of Keystone State Republicans who visited Arizona last week to meet with officials who commissioned the state's "audit."

The issue appears to be splintering the Republican Party ahead of a pivotal midterm election year. The GOP chairman of the Pennsylvania State House Government Committee recently tweeted, "The PA House of Representatives will not be authorizing any further audits on any previous election. We are focused on fixing our broken election law to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat."

ONE MORE THING

Virginians head to the polls Tuesday to vote in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, and while former Gov. Terry McAuliffe is the front-runner, his opponents -- former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Del. Lee Carter -- are barnstorming the commonwealth in the final stretch to convince undecided voters they are the right choice to beat GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin in November.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Monday morning's episode features ABC News congressional correspondent Rachel Scott, who explains why Sen. Joe Manchin won't be supporting a sweeping voting rights bill. ABC News' Fergal Gallagher tells us more about former President Donald Trump's future on Facebook. And ABC News’ Ike Ejochi North Carolina has the story of a North Carolina high school student who was removed from his school’s graduation ceremony for draping a Mexican flag over his gown. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

FiveThirtyEight's Politics Podcast. In 2021, cities across the country are choosing mayors to lead them through a long list of challenges, both preexisting and those brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week on the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, we began to explore the most high-profile of those mayoral contests -- the New York City Democratic primary. In this installment, we put that primary in context by looking more broadly at the relationship between urban centers and the Democratic Party. Cities have huge concentrations of Democratic voters -- but what does that mean for the party nationally? And how will a race like the one in New York shape and be shaped by national Democratic politics? https://53eig.ht/34LeMT6

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

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