Jamaal Bowman Calls Joe Manchin 'New Mitch McConnell' Over Opposition to Voting Rights Bill, Ending Filibuster

Congressman Jamaal Bowman is comparing his Democratic colleague Joe Manchin to the Senate Republican leader after Manchin vowed to block voting rights legislation and preserve the filibuster.

Speaking to CNN's John Berman on Monday, Bowman said Manchin has "become the new Mitch McConnell."

"Mitch McConnell during Obama's presidency said he would do everything in his power to stop Obama. He's also repeated that now during the Biden presidency by saying he would do everything in his power to stop President Biden. And now Joe Manchin is doing everything in his power to stop democracy and to stop our work for the people, the work that the people sent us here to do," Bowman said.

Bowman added, "Manchin is not pushing us closer to bipartisanship. He is doing the work of the Republican Party by being an obstructionist, just like they've been since the beginning of Biden's presidency."

His remarks come after Manchin doubled down on his opposition to H.R. 1—a sweeping voting rights bill also known as the For the People Act—and his defense of the filibuster in an editorial published Sunday by the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

"I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster," Manchin wrote.

The For the People Act would work to expand voter access, improve election integrity and security, revise political spending rules and place limits on gerrymandering, according to a summary of the legislation.

It has garnered zero Republican support, prompting some Democrats to propose eliminating the filibuster to push it through the chamber. The Senate rule requires legislation to gain at least 60 votes to advance in the upper chamber, which is evenly divided 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans.

Instead, Manchin is backing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would reinstate the 1965 Voting Rights Act with some additional provisions.

"Of course, some in my party have argued that now is the time to discard such bipartisan voting reforms and embrace election reforms and policies solely supported by one party. Respectfully, I do not agree," the West Virginia Democrat wrote in his editorial.

Bowman Calls Manchin the ‘New Mitch McConnell'
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, ask questions of Rep. Debra Haaland during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., on Feb. 24, 2021. Manchin has earned the ire of some of his Democratic colleagues for opposing a voting rights bill and defending the filibuster. Leigh Vogel/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Manchin is considered a key vote in passing the voting rights bill, which is considered a priority for Democrats and the White House. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has set an August deadline to pass legislation addressing voting rights and elections.

His opposition to H.R. 1 and eliminating the filibuster has prompted mounting pushback from progressive members of the Democratic Party.

Mondaire Jones, a congressman from New York, said that Manchin's op-ed "might as well be titled, 'Why I'll vote to preserve Jim Crow.'"

Rep. Ilhan Omar retweeted Manchin's op-ed with the caption, "The reason this bill has no Republican support is because it gets in the way of Republican plans to undermine elections. This bill protects our democracy from Republican attempts to dismantle it."

Newsweek reached out to Manchin's office for comment on Bowman's remarks but didn't receive a response before publication.