CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Voting rights legislation has stalled in the U.S. Senate as the chamber on Wednesday was unable to overcome a Republican filibuster and advance the measure.

Democrats have pushed multiple bills in response to state legislatures passing restrictive voting laws, and the Democratic caucus united behind the recent proposal. Senators could not pass the legislation due to the chamber’s rule regarding a 60-vote threshold for ending debate. Two Democrats — West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema — remain opposed to changes.

The final tally was 49-51; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., switched his vote to bring up the matter again.

Manchin voiced support for the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, which would ensure mail-in ballot and early voting access, allow same-day and automatic voter registration, and renew the Justice Department’s authority to review election laws in areas where officials have limited voter accessibility. Manchin supported the original Freedom to Vote Act after Democrats agreed to language regarding a national voter identification standard.

The House of Representatives last week passed the proposal 220-203.

The senator, however, has raised concerns about changing the filibuster, which Manchin contends is necessary as a force pushing the majority party to negotiate with colleagues.

“I cannot support such a perilous course for this nation when elected leaders are sent to Washington to unite our country, not divide our country,” he said. “Putting politics and party aside is what we do. It’s time that we do that hard work to forge the difficult compromises that can stand the test of time.”

Manchin gave his remarks in front of a poster stating, “The United States Senate has never been able to end debate with a simple majority.”

The Senate filibuster requires 60 senators to support ending debate on most legislation. The Senate can advance budgetary matters and nominations with a simple majority; lawmakers in 2013 and 2017 modified the filibuster to confirm nominations and Supreme Court justices with 51 votes.

“The majority rule actually is the rule of the Senate for a great manner of matters,” Daniel Weiner, the director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Elections and Government Program, told MetroNews.

“I respect Senator Manchin’s point of view — and I’m sure that it is sincere — but majority rule, in fact, in the Senate more often than not is how they operate except, apparently, voting rights.”

The Senate in December approved increasing the debt ceiling with a simple majority.

Schumer proposed a “talking filibuster” for the voting rights bill; senators would have been required to be in the Senate chamber and discuss their opposition ahead of a simple majority vote. The Senate voted 52-48 late Wednesday evening for keeping the chamber’s filibuster rules; Manchin and Sinema joined Republican colleagues in opposing revisions.

Senate Republicans successfully blocked voting rights legislation during last year’s congressional session; GOP senators argue the measures would give the federal government overreach into how states manage elections.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said following Wednesday’s vote that changes to the filibuster would affect more than voting rights.

“Even in an equally divided Senate, a majority of senators saw through the efforts of the Democratic leadership to alter the rules to advance their radical agenda. Tonight, I was proud to stand to promote bipartisanship when considering legislation,” she said in a statement.

“Make no mistake: This is not about voting rights. Instead, Democrats’ flip-flopped on their position on the filibuster and attempted a short-sighted power grab to federalize our elections”

Capito opposes changing the filibuster for legislation; she backed the 2017 revision allowing a simple majority vote for confirming Supreme Court nominees.

“Now that Senator Schumer’s blatant attempts to break the Senate have failed, I am hopeful that we can work towards bipartisan solutions to help address the needs and issues facing America,” she added.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 19 state legislative bodies in 2021 approved bills restricting voter access. Democrats have additionally cited false claims about a stolen 2020 presidential election as an additional reason for the legislation.

“The question is what is the path forward,” Weiner said. “These proposals have been in some form or another on the table for three years, though literally the first time we’ve heard sort of talk about bipartisan compromise is in the last week or couple of weeks.”

Manchin said legislators held private negotiations over the last year rather than working across the aisle to pass bipartisan legislation.

“I believe with every fiber in my body that every eligible citizen of voting age should have the right to vote and be protected by law. Everyone,” Manchin argued. “And I believe everyone in here believes the same thing. I truly do.

He added, “This is important. Let’s work it out. Let’s stay here and go at it.”

Weiner said he does not know if Congress can pass voting rights legislation, but lawmakers should address this issue.

“Remember, a great part of this is [Manchin’s] bill,” he said. “We’re not going to give up, and I would hope he won’t give up, either.”

Members of Congress are considering changes to the Electoral Count Act to clarify the roles of the vice president and lawmakers during the election certification process. The legislation stems from the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the presidential election results.