Joe Manchin Meets With Texas Dems on Voting Rights Legislation

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat seen as key to passing voting rights legislation that has been a priority for President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders, met Thursday evening with a group of Texas Democrats who blocked a state law there that would put new restrictions on early voting.

A Manchin spokesperson told Newsweek the senator met privately with Texas state Senators Royce West and José Menendéz; and Texas state Representatives Chris Turner; Nicole Collier, who is the chairwoman of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus; and Jessica Gonzalez, the vice chairwoman of the Texas House Elections Committee.

Manchin had missed a meeting earlier this week with the Democratic state lawmakers, who are in Washington, D.C. this week to advocate for voting reform bills. He told reporters on Wednesday he would try to reschedule.

"I think all of us should be transparent enough to tell you exactly what we agree with, we don't agree with," he told reporters.

His spokesperson didn't elaborate on Manchin's thoughts on the meeting or how it will affect his position on legislation, but Manchin unveiled earlier in the day a summary of the proposal he could get behind to muster support for passage in the House and Senate, where Democrats hold delicate control.

Thanks to Rep.’s Cuellar, Green & Garcia who helped facilitate a very positive meeting w/ Sen. @JoeManchinWV who agreed that the right to vote is fundamental. Working together we’ll find a pathway forward to protect #votingrights of all Americans & protect our democracy! #txlege pic.twitter.com/uyUrM203u2

— José Menéndez (@Menendez4Texas) June 16, 2021

On Twitter, Menendéz called the meeting "very positive" and said Manchin "agreed that the right to vote is fundamental."

"Working together we'll find a pathway forward," he wrote.

Menendéz didn't immediately respond to Newsweek's request for further comment.

Texas Democrats staged a walkout that prevented a House vote on voting reform measures they say would have made it unnecessarily harder for people to vote. Republicans have defended the proposal as a way to combat opportunities for voter fraud.

While in D.C., they've met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Kamala Harris—the White House's point person on voting legislation, Democratic lawmakers and others.

In Congress, Democrats have been trying to advance two proposals they say are aimed at protecting voting rights in response to Texas and other southern states that have pushed new voting legislation.

House Resolution 1, which Democrats are pushing as the For the People Act, would require states to allow same-day and online voter registration, require new early voting periods, make Election Day a federal holiday and expand mail voting options, among other provisions.

House Resolution 4, named for the late Civil Rights leader and Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, would restore parts of the Voting Rights Act that have been scaled back through legal challenges.

Manchin's compromise proposals on both bills, which he revealed through a summary document Wednesday, would include several of the Democrats' priorities, including creating an Election Day holiday, expanding early voting and allowing more voter registration options. Manchin's proposals also include some Republican priorities, including mandatory voter identification.

Joe Manchin meets with Texas Democrats
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Drew Angerer/Getty Images