The session highlighted the search for a strong defense against laws that Democrats say are designed to make it harder to vote. Democrats lack the numbers in many statehouses to block Republicans from passing the tighter rules. Corporate statements and street protests have made Republicans uncomfortable and softened some of the legislation, but not stopped it. Lawsuits may not be resolved before next year’s midterm elections. That leaves much riding on a federal rewrite of election and voting laws that could gut many of the Republican-backed state rules. But a Senate hearing on the legislation this week was a display of united Republican opposition, leaving Democrats with no easy path... Manchin on Wednesday expressed support for a narrower voting bill — one that would restore the requirement that the Justice Department “pre-clear” voting restrictions. His endorsement could be a sign of growing support for that measure, although it, too, would need Republican votes or a change in Senate rules. Still, Democrats seemed to have no clear path forward Thursday after they spent part of their weekly Senate lunch to discussing HR1 and voting. Manchin wasn’t even there; he was in West Virginia hosting a visit from first lady Jill Biden.