Schumer Will Try To Revise Senate Filibuster Rules In Order To Pass Election Reform
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) is attempting filibuster rule change in a Hail Mary as various aspects of Democrats’ agenda, namely election reform and economic plans, have stalled. He seeks to establish that a simple majority vote will carry the reform legislation through the Senate, rather than the 60-vote majority currently required by the filibuster.
Schumer warned on Monday that, by Jan. 17, a debate and vote will occur surrounding changes to the Senate’s rules, unless Republicans cease to obstruct election reform. This threatened outcome seems certain, as Republicans are essentially guaranteed to block the Democratic legislation.
Schumer penned a Dear Colleague letter, released Monday, in which he discussed his thoughts about the future of the chamber, particularly concerning election legislation. All 50 Senate Democrats support the reform, but it has been continually filibustered by Republicans.
Democrats have long argued that the legislative filibuster must end in order for bills such as that of election reform to succeed. Schumer will lead a meeting concerning this issue with his team members on Tuesday. In the Dear Colleague letter, he set a two-week deadline for Democrats to push through a Senate rule change.
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“The Senate must evolve, like it has many times before,” Schumer wrote. “The Senate was designed to evolve and has evolved many times in our history. … The fight for the ballot is as old as the Republic.”
President Joe Biden‘s sweeping climate change and social spending bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, is central to Democrats’ agenda. However, it failed to pass through the Senate after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) withheld his essential swing vote. It is unclear how Democrats will pass their legislation now. However, Schumer said in December that he plans to bring the bill to the floor again and continue attempts until they some measures are approved.
A tense midterm election season is about to begin. In a few weeks, primary votes will begin. This has placed greater pressure on Democrats to pass aspects of their agenda.
The voting reform legislation would address issues such as gerrymandering and strengthening the Voting Rights Act. Republicans have staunchly opposed voting reform.
In the past, Democrats said that they would not move onto election reform at the expense of addressing education, climate, health care, child care and climate.
“I don’t think we’re pivoting away,” said Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), a member of Schumer’s leadership team. “In fact, we met by recess over phone and we’re lining up a vote on that.”
While a complete end to the filibuster is currently not on the horizon, various possibilities exist to reduce the 60-vote threshold. These possibilities include reintroducing the talking filibuster or ending the ability to filibuster a bill from any debate on the Senate floor.
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