Salon’s Igor Derysh reports that Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) op-ed opposing the For the People Act — Democrats’ sweeping voting rights bill — “strongly echoed talking points from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — and appeared shortly after the influential pro-business lobby resumed donations to Manchin’s campaign after nearly a decade.”
Manchin, who co-sponsored the sweeping voting rights legislation in 2019 and has supported filibuster reform in the past, became the first Senate Democrat to oppose the bill this week while reiterating his opposition to changing the filibuster, a key roadblock to voting reform. Skeptical members of Manchin’s party have questioned the reasons for his opposition, especially after after a recent poll found that a majority of West Virginia voters support changing the filibuster rules and that 79% of the state’s voters — including a large majority of Republicans — support the For the People Act.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., suggested that Manchin’s opposition to the proposal and filibuster reform may really be about measures in the bill aimed at cracking down on lobbyists and dark money.
“This is probably just as much a part of Joe Manchin’s calculus than anything else,” she told MSNBC on Tuesday. “You look at the Koch brothers and you look at organizations like the Heritage Foundation and conservative lobby groups that are doing a victory lap … over the fact that Manchin refuses to change on the filibuster. And I think that these two things are very closely intertwined.”
One group that has been a major cheerleader of Manchin’s staunch opposition is the aforementioned U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a powerful pro-business group that also receives Koch money and generally supports Republicans.
Derysh noted that Manchin wrote his op-ed “after the Chamber, which has launched an expensive lobbying effort against the bill, resumed donations to Manchin’s campaign for the first time since 2012.”
Reuters described this flow of corporate dollars as a “reward” for Manchin’s opposition to numerous Biden administration’s initiatives, as well as his stalwart support for the filibuster, which has almost certainly doomed the For the People Act.
“The timing of Sen. Manchin’s announcement is highly suspicious,” Kyle Herrig, president of the progressive government watchdog group Accountable.US, said in a statement to Salon. “Not long after the Chamber reopened their corporate checkbook for him, he made his opposition to voting rights known. Now millions of Americans may face significant roadblocks when they try to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Once again the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has found a way to stop any progress on voting rights from progressing on Capitol Hill.”
Neither Manchin’s office nor the U.S. Chamber of Commerce responded to Salon’s questions, according to the report.
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