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Representatives from a group of Texas Democratic lawmakers who blocked a Republican-backed voting restrictions bill from becoming state law at the eleventh hour met with West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s staff on Tuesday to lobby for federal voting legislation.
One of the attendees, state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said that he and state Rep. Jasmine Crockett represented the Texas state Democratic caucus in the meeting with Manchin's chief of staff, Lance West, and Legislative Director Wes Kungel and that he was heartened by the 45-minute discussion.
"It was a real meeting and I'm grateful for that," he told reporters afterward. "We really had an opportunity to understand the legislation and understand what the thinking is of Sen. Manchin, what the approach is going to be in the coming days, certainly all of his decisions and his timelines. Not for me to comment on, but I left there with hope and inspiration."
The Texas lawmakers were in Washington to lobby for federal voting legislation, particularly the "For the People Act," and met with the Senate Democratic Caucus over lunch and several Democratic lawmakers privately on Tuesday and were able to secure a last-minute meeting with Manchin's staff.
“Their story is not unique, it’s what’s happening across the country,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at a press conference with the group, pointing to the surge of voting restrictions being enacted across the country.
Manchin has emerged as a key figure when it comes to voting legislation. Democrats have been unable to secure any Republican support for their measure, which would gut GOP-advanced restrictions in states like Texas and Georgia. To pass the bill in its current form, Democrats would need Manchin to agree to amend Senate filibuster rules. He also remains opposed to eliminating the filibuster.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaking with reporters while the Texas lawmakers' meeting was taking place, highlighted the lack of GOP support for the legislation.
He slammed the bill as an attempt to boost Democrats' electoral chances and reiterated that his caucus would not vote in support of it.
"Think of this as exactly what it is, a partisan effort by the majority to take over at the federal level how we conduct all of America's elections," he said. "Not surprisingly, there won't be a single Republican who supports it."
Manchin has said he supports the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a more narrow voting bill with the support of one Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. That bill is also opposed by McConnell, who says it is "unnecessary."
The Texas lawmakers planned to argue that the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is important but "not a substitute" for the For the People Act, according to prepared talking points for the lawmakers.