Hundreds protest Manchin's opposition to voting law overhaul
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Hundreds of protesters outraged by Senator Joe Manchin's opposition to a major overhaul of the U.S. electoral law marched through the West Virginia capital Monday evening.
Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign, condemned the influential moderate Democratic senator and called for a diverse coalition of working people to put pressure on Manchin, who recently opposed a $ 15 minimum wage and President Joe Biden's original price $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan.
"West Virginia needs a real Senator," he thundered in front of a festive crowd in a park in Charleston.
Then they marched a mile to Manchin's office. The Senator was unable to meet - an adviser told Barber he was in Washington - the leaders of the demonstration posted a poster-sized letter of protest on the front doors of the office building. Rally visitors took turns signing their names on it.
When Manchin's aides offered comment cards to collect the protesters' complaints, Barber waved him off: "We don't want to talk to the staff."
An email to Manchin's office about the protest was not immediately returned.
The protest was spurred by Manchin's decision to oppose a landmark reform of US electoral law, a proposal known as the For the People Act. Some say last week that passing reforms in a party-line vote carries the risk of further fueling the party divisions.
As a key senator in a divided chamber, Manchin has frustrated progressive Democrats with his reluctance to endorse several key agenda items.
Many people from neighboring states, including Kentucky and Maryland, drove and rode buses to make it to the protests. They held signs accusing Manchin of facilitating voter suppression.
He supports a narrower law known as HR4, which updates the Voting Rights Act to reintroduce the requirement that new electoral laws and legislative districts in certain states be subject to federal approval.
Crucially, Manchin opposes removing the 60-vote requirement to break a filibuster in the Senate, a move that would allow Democrats to pass key agenda items without Republican votes. That made the West Virginia Democrats a kingmaker in the evenly divided chamber.
"Since our senator pretty much controls this thing, we'd like to be here to say we're not on the same side," said Chuck Overstreet, a Charleston resident who joined the march.
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