Democrats are accusing fellow party members of perpetuating racism if they don’t help blow up Senate rules to force through a partisan rewrite of the country’s election laws.
Several Democrats said Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona were turning their backs on minorities by opposing a change to the Senate’s long-standing filibuster rule that requires 60 votes to pass most legislation.
“They don’t care about minorities. They don’t care about Blacks. They don’t care about people in their own districts who they’re going to deny their voting rights and undermine their voting rights,” Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, fumed on MSNBC.
Mrs. Waters is the latest elected leader to speak out against the two Democratic senators and blame them for holding back Black Americans.
Vice President Kamala Harris warned the two senators on Monday over their resistance to changing Senate rules to pass a voting bill.
“I’m not going to absolve — nor should any of us absolve — any member of the United States Senate from taking on the responsibility to follow through on the oath that they all took to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Ms. Harris told reporters.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have also been drilling into Mr. Manchin for refusing to save with voting legislation.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas Democrat, wrote she was frustrated in a five-page letter to Mr. Manchin.
Ms. Jackson Lee said Mr. Manchin did not respond to her missive, making it public last week.
“It only suggests if he should have the courage of West Virginia that seceded from Virginia because they did not want to support slavery,” she said.
She also has called the filibuster a “racist tool” against the freedoms of people of color.
The Democrat’s election and voting bills garner no supporters among Senate Republicans and therefore can’t survive a filibuster in the chamber, which is split 50-50 between the parties. The Democrats’ only hope was to use the so-called nuclear option and blow up the filibuster rule, but that requires the support of all 50 Senate Democrats, and Ms. Sinema and Mr. Manchin are not on board.
Election laws have emerged as a partisan showdown for 2022. Democrats insist they are combatting restrictive and racist new voting laws in Republican-run states, proposing to protect voters with a slew of new national standards such as universal mail-in voting and restrictions on cleaning up voter rolls.
Republicans insist the new state laws improve election security with voter ID laws and the like, and they accuse Democrats of attempting to nationalize elections and tilt the rules in their favor.
The Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, with Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, expected to move to end debate on the monthlong push to approve Democrats’ election-year priority. The legislation combines the Freedom to Vote Act, which would set national standards on elections, with the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the Justice Department’s oversight of election law changes in states with a history of discrimination.
A Senate vote is expected on Wednesday. If the legislation doesn’t receive the support of at least 10 Republicans, Mr. Schumer has said he will then bring up an effort to change the Senate’s 60-vote rule that’s required for most legislation.
• Dave Boyer contributed to this story.