Rep. Jamaal Bowman on Monday called fellow Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin “the new Mitch McConnell,” denouncing him for his opposition to the party’s expansive voting rights reform bill and for his support of the legislative filibuster. During an interview on CNN, Bowman accused Manchin of following the path of Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who prevented many of former President Barack Obama’s legislative initiatives and has said he will do the same under President Joe Biden.
“Joe Manchin has become the new Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell during Obama’s presidency said he would do everything in his power to stop Obama,” the New York lawmaker said. “He’s also repeated that now during the Biden presidency by saying he would do everything in his power to stop President Biden, and now Joe Manchin is doing everything in his power to stop democracy and to stop our work for the people, the work that the people sent us here to do.”
Bowman also added, “Manchin is not pushing us closer to bipartisanship. He is doing the work of the Republican Party by being an obstructionist, just like they’ve been since the beginning of Biden’s presidency.” These remarks come after Manchin authored an op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail on Sunday announcing that he would not back the For the People Act call, which is one of the top priorities for the Democratic party this year.
“The right to vote is fundamental to our American democracy, and protecting that right should not be about party or politics,” he wrote. “Least of all, protecting this right, which is a value I share, should never be done in a partisan manner.”
The For the People Act, also known as S.1., is legislation that Democrats have said would help protect against Republican led efforts to restrict voting at the state level, which often disproportionately affect voters of color.
Manchin’s opposition to the bill puts its chances of passing in the Senate in serious jeopardy. Additionally, although Manchin reiterated his support for another voting rights measure named after the late Rep. John Lewis in his op-ed, that bill also faces a difficult road to passage in the Senate.
Further complicating these election reform efforts by Democrats is Manchin’s support for the 60-vote threshold now in place for most bills.
Bowman’s comparison of Manchin and McConnell refers to the Senate minority leader’s comment to reporters in Kentucky last month that “100 percent of our [Republicans’] focus is on stopping this new administration.”
Former President Donald Trump, who urged McConnell to end the filibuster while he was in office, thanked Manchin for his position on the matter during an interview on Monday.
In the CNN interview, Bowman called the filibuster a “Jim Crow, white supremacist relic,” and said that after reaching out to Manchin’s office to speak with him about “saving and rescuing our democracy,” he has yet to receive a response months later.