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Photo: Al Drago via Getty Images

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) sent a letter this week urging to congressional leaders to advance a bipartisan reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which banned discriminatory voting practices.

Why it matters: The bipartisan letter comes as Manchin faces criticism for withholding his support for the "For the People Act," a sweeping bill that would expand ballot access.

  • Voting rights have emerged a key issue this year as Republicans in legislatures throughout the country seek to tighten voting restrictions. Democrats have said the move will disproportionately target voters of color.
  • The letter is an attempt to show bipartisan support for bolstering voting access, but it's not clear enough Republicans will back the legislation, NBC News reports.

Context: The Voting Rights Act was last reauthorized in 2006. Since enactment, the act has been authorized and amended five times with "large, bipartisan majorities," Manchin and Murkowski write.

  • The Supreme Court in 2013 gutted a key section of the act, which determines which states must get federal pre-approval before they can change their voting laws but left it to Congress to rewrite the law.

What they're saying: "Protecting Americans’ access to democracy has not been a partisan issue for the past 56 years, and we must not allow it to become one now," the senators wrote.

  • "Inaction is not an option. Congress must come together – just as we have done time and again – to reaffirm our longstanding bipartisan commitment to free, accessible, and secure elections for all."
  • The letter is addressed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
  • Manchin has maintained that legislation addressing voting rights requires a "bipartisan solution."
  • Murkowski said she had not received "much reaction" from other Republicans about the letter, per Reuters.

Go deeper

House Democrats pass $3.5 trillion budget resolution

Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

House Democrats passed a $3.5 trillion budget resolution on Tuesday, 220-212, advancing the party’s effort to pass a sweeping economic package that would expand the nation’s social safety net.

Why it matters: Democrats now will be able to use the budget reconciliation process to pass a bill — likely later this fall — by a simple majority, tackling key priorities like health care, child care and climate change.

Aug 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

House Democrats strike deal to advance infrastructure, voting rights proposals

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) departs the House Democratic Caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

After hours of infighting, House Democrats on Tuesday struck a deal that would approve their $3.5 trillion budget resolution, set up floor action on the bipartisan infrastructure bill by Sept. 27 and advance voting rights legislation.

Why it matters: The deal is key to advancing Democrats' top three priorities — all of which are expected to receive little to no House Republican support.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 25, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Schumer: Budget plan key to meeting U.S. goals under the Paris deal

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Democrats' spending and tax plan and the bipartisan infrastructure package would together cut greenhouse gas emissions almost enough to meet the U.S. pledge under the Paris Agreement, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

Driving the news: Schumer, in a new letter to Senate colleagues, said his office's analysis of the two proposals shows they would put the U.S. on track to cut emissions around 45% below 2005 levels by 2030.