Manchin breaks with fellow Senate Democrats, backs scaled-down version of For the People Act

Manchin said voting reform needs to be bipartisan for Americans to regain confidence.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is breaking with fellow Senate Democrats over voting reform proposals in the chamber – eschewing the sweeping For the People Act for a scaled-down version being put forth by Rep. John Lewis.

Manchin is a moderate in a strongly conservative state and is a critical yes vote for Senate Democrats in an evenly-split 50-50 chamber with Democrats.

"I believe Democrats and Republicans feel very strongly about protecting the ballot boxes allowing people to protect the right to vote, making it accessible, making it fair, and making it secure," Manchin on Wednesday told ABC News, which first reported his decision. "It could be done bipartisan to start getting confidence back in our system."

The proposal by Lewis, a Georgia lawmaker, and civil rights activist, is titled the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

The Democrat-controlled House has already passed its version of the For the People Act.