Democrats compare efforts to try and convince West Virginia senator Joe Manchin to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, to “negotiating via Etch A Sketch,” because he changes his mind based on the last person he’s spoken with, Axios reported.
“You think you’re just about there. You think you’ve got an agreement on most of the things and it’s settling in. And then you come back the next morning and you’re starting from scratch,” a source told the outlet.
Manchin’s own Freedom to Vote Act is stalled in the Senate as Republicans have filibustered the bill twice last year. Democrats and activists have described the bill as Congress’ last chance to combat restrictive voting laws passed by Republican-controlled legislatures across the country.
However, Manchin and Arizona senator Kyrsten Sinema oppose removing the Senate filibuster’s 60-vote threshold or even to create a one-time carveout to allow Democrats to pass the bill along party lines.
According to Axios, the White House is hoping Sens. Angus King (I-Maine), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) can lobby Manchin to pass the bill. However, talks so far appear to be unsuccessful.
One aide in the meetings says Manchin will go home and take several calls from outsiders then come back with new questions that reopen an old debate.
“I think he listens to everybody, which is the problem. Whoever he’s heard from most recently has the upper hand,” the aide said.
Meanwhile, many Senate Democrats believe the White House and Senate leadership are underestimating Sinema who some Democrats believe to be a bigger challenge to changing Senate rules than Joe Manchin.
“There is no movement from the position that she articulated in a Washington Post editorial,” one Democratic senator told Axios. Sinema argued in the op-ed that the country has more to lose than gain by ending the filibuster.
“I am not convinced it’s impossible; I’m just convinced that what we’re doing isn’t moving her,” the senator said.