Pelosi Urges Senate Democrats, Manchin to Help Pass Voting Act Amid Controversy Over Filibuster

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is urging Senate Democrats to help pass both the For the People Act (H.R. 1) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Acts (H.R. 4), as the upper chamber of Congress struggles to pass legislation with a supermajority vote.

"When we pass H.R. 4, we must do so in a way that is ironclad constitutionally. This is what Congressman Butterfield and the House Judiciary Committee are hard at work now. H.R. 4 must be passed, but it will not be ready until the fall, and it is not a substitute for H.R. 1," Pelosi wrote to her colleagues in a Tuesday letter.

Pelosi's plea comes amid renewed controversy over the filibuster, which some Senate Democrats, like West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, have vowed not to eliminate.

On Sunday, Manchin defended his decision to vote against the voting rights legislation, arguing it was too wide-ranging. He also reaffirmed his position on the filibuster and stated that he would not change senate rules.

"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," the moderate Democrat wrote in an op-ed published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

While Manchin has opposed the For the People Act, he has urged the Senate leadership to update and pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which is a narrower voting bill and has earned the support of Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski. But Pelosi argued on Tuesday that the two bills are not interchangeable.

"Our mission is to amplify the voices of the grassroots, as they vote, advocate for policy and choose to run for office," Pelosi wrote. "H.R. 1/S. 1 must become law in order to respect the sanctity of the vote, which is the basis of our democracy."

Manchin is the only Democratic senator not listed as a co-sponsor on the bill.

On the other hand, Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats, has said that while he is opposed to abolishing the filibuster, he would consider changing his mind in order to pass the For the People Act.

"If it comes down to voting rights and the rights of Americans to go to the polls and select their leaders versus the filibuster, I'll choose democracy," King told CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday.

Nancy Pelosi Senate Democrats Joe Manchin Voting
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at her weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol on May 20. Kevin Dietsch/Getty

On Tuesday, Pelosi also called on Senate Democrats to pass a bill that would create a January 6 commission, which was blocked by Republicans in the first legislative filibuster of Joe Biden's presidency.

If the Senate still doesn't pass the bill, "we will be prepared to seek and find the truth of the assault on the Capitol, our Congress and our Democracy," the House speaker wrote. "It is a fight we must make, it is a privilege we all have, to honor the vision of our founders and the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform."

While Manchin is in favor of the commission, he has insisted he will not gut the filibuster to ensure one is created.

Newsweek reached out to Manchin's office for comment but did not hear back before publication.