April 26, 2022

Manchin Questions U.S. Attorney General On Addressing Voting Rights, Price Gouging and Drug Epidemic

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, questioned U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on addressing voting rights, price gouging and the drug epidemic.

On voting rights, specifically a private right of action – the ability of private citizens to enforce their rights – under the Voting Rights Act:

“On voting rights, I've always believed that a healthy democracy depends on a voting system that is accessible, free, fair and secure. While history is going to tell us that we've come a long way in ensuring all individuals regardless of their race, sex or political affiliation have the ability to cast their vote, we can all agree that we still have a lot of work to do. I’m particularly concerned about the recent opinions and rulings that seem to undercut decades of established legal precedent under the Voting Rights Act. Specifically, in February, a federal district court in Arkansas ruled that only the U.S. Attorney General has standing to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The court found that it would be inappropriate to imply a private right of action to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.” Senator Manchin questioned, “With that interpretation, do you agree or disagree? And what impact if any, could this ruling have on voting rights if this was adopted across the country?”

On fuel price gouging:

“We’re hearing a lot about price gouging right now…we're seeing it again this time with fuel prices and food prices and things of that sort. Should there be a criminal price gouging statute?” Senator Manchin questioned, “What constitutes an acceptable price versus market demands or global pricing?”

On the drug epidemic:

“West Virginia has been number one, as far as getting slammed with the drug epidemic. Can you speak to the status of DOJ’s current efforts to curtail the opioid crisis, including the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid (ARPO) Strike Force?” Senator Manchin questioned, “So what additional authorities do you believe DOJ or FBI need in order to effectively stop the flow of prescription opioids and other illegal drugs?”

Senator Manchin’s efforts to address the drug epidemic can be found here.