New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman on Monday compared fellow Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and said he is trying to thwart President Joe Biden’s agenda after the West Virginia lawmaker stood by his decision to vote against a sweeping voting rights bill and opposition to gutting the filibuster.
“Joe Manchin has become the new Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell during Obama’s presidency said he would do everything in his power to stop (then-President Barack Obama),” Bowman told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.” “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 continued, “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.”
Bowman’s scathing criticism of his fellow Democrat is an outward sign of frustration in the party as Manchin’s refusal to support changing the filibuster – which would allow Democrats to pass major legislation with only 50 votes, not 60 – has become a roadblock for some of Biden’s agenda.
On Sunday, Manchin defended his decision to vote against a sweeping voting rights bill called the For the People Act, writing in an op-ed published in the Charleston Gazette that “partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy.”
For months, Manchin has remained a key holdup to the voting rights bill and he is the only Democratic senator not listed as a cosponsor on the legislation.
He also asserted that “the fundamental right to vote has itself become overtly politicized,” and – taking aim at members of his party – said some Democrats have “attempted to demonize the filibuster and conveniently ignore how it has been critical to protecting the rights of Democrats in the past.”
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Monday evening that Manchin needs to “put forth the legislation” he would like to see passed on voting rights.
“This democracy is at the crossroads. And we better stop playing with this because if you are all for preserving the integrity of this great country, you will be preserving the right of people to vote,” the South Carolina Democrat told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront.”
In the past, Manchin has argued that Democrats who want to abolish the filibuster should be careful what they wish for, noting then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s move in 2013 to remove the 60-vote filibuster standard for most presidential nominees was later cited by Republicans to lift the rule for Supreme Court justices, which eventually led to a conservative majority on the high court.
This story has been updated with additional details.
CNN’s Paul LeBlanc, Devan Cole, Aileen Graef and Daniella Diaz contributed to this report.