House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday said the Democrats’ high-profile voting bill is awaiting action in the Senate and “must become law” to preserve the sanctity of the vote, doubling down on the sprawling measure two days after Sen. Joe Manchin III effectively doomed its prospects.
Mrs. Pelosi, writing to her Democratic colleagues, said the country faces an urgent moment as Republican-led states enact laws to tighten election procedures.
“By contrast, congressional Democrats have brilliantly and patriotically proposed legislation to respect the sanctity of our democracy,” the speaker wrote, before describing the bill’s status as “awaiting action in the Senate.”
Republicans have opposed H.R. 1, titled the For the People Act, saying it would give the federal government too much sway over state-run elections and invite chaos by allowing automatic registration, providing 10 days past Election Day to count mail-in ballots and taking authority away from state legislatures to draw district maps.
Mr. Manchin, a Democrat in deep-red West Virginia, said Sunday that partisan efforts to change how elections work will harden political divisions, so he cannot support it.
The Senate is divided 50-50 between the parties, so Mr. Manchin’s opposition would impede the bill even if Democrats waived the filibuster rule that requires 60 votes for major legislation to advance.
Mrs. Pelosi’s letter suggests she will continue to press the issue even if there is no tangible path to passage.
“Our mission is to amplify the voices of the grassroots, as they vote, advocate for policy and choose to run for office. H.R. 1/S. 1 must become law in order to respect the sanctity of the vote, which is the basis of our democracy,” she wrote.
Mrs. Pelosi also said a separate elections bill, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, also needs to pass but won’t be ready until the fall.
Mr. Manchin said he supports the Lewis bill because it would update the formula used to ensure that states and localities do not restrict the voting rights of particular groups or populations.
Mrs. Pelosi said she hopes the Lewis bill will pass in bipartisan fashion later this year, but stressed that H.R. 1 “must be passed now.”
The speaker also reaffirmed support for a panel to examine the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, despite Republican opposition to the idea.
“We are still hoping the Senate will pass the January 6th commission. If not, we will be prepared to seek and find the truth of the assault on the Capitol, our Congress and our democracy,” she said in the letter that referenced Memorial Day and the 77th anniversary of D-Day. “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.”