Shumer Announces Vote On Changing Filibuster For Voting Rights

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Those among Senate Democrats who insist on clinging to the Senate’s outdated filibuster rules are seemingly going to soon have to go on record with a vote. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has announced plans for a vote on changing those filibuster rules in order to allow for the passage of new protections at the federal level for voting rights. These protections would respond to the numerous threats poised by continued pushes from Republican leaders to enact new restrictions around the electoral process. But the filibuster rules — which demand the agreement of at least 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber before moving forward on most bills — stand in the way.

The new restrictions around elections that have recently emerged range from new limits on mail-in voting to new hurdles for voter outreach organizations. In a letter to his Democratic colleagues that was released this week, Schumer directly connected the actions of Republican officials who are enacting suppressive restrictions around elections to the actions of those who participated in the storming of the Capitol last January. As he put it:

‘Let me be clear: January 6th was a symptom of a broader illness, an effort to delegitimize our election process, and the Senate must advance systemic reforms to repair our democracy or else the events of that day will not be an aberration—they will be the new norm… Our caucus has fought back against these assaults, uniting behind comprehensive legislation that would address these threats to our democracy. Sadly, these common-sense solutions to defend our democracy have been repeatedly blocked by our Republican colleagues, who seem wholly uninterested in taking any meaningful steps to stem the rising tide of antidemocratic sentiment still being stoked by the former president today.’

Although Schumer noted that the Senate “was designed to protect the political rights of the minority in the chamber” — something reflected by the set-up of the filibuster rules, he added that “those rights have been warped and contorted to obstruct and embarrass the will of the majority — something our Founders explicitly opposed.” Voting rights protections that have been proposed feature the support of every Democratic Senator in office, and in such a position, these protections could pass the chamber with a simple majority in support — but again, the filibuster requirements make the majority of the people’s representatives in this chamber unable to exercise their will.

Schumer said that Democrats “hope our Republican colleagues change course and work with us. But if they do not, the Senate will debate and consider changes to Senate rules on or before January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to protect the foundation of our democracy: free and fair elections.” Read his letter in full by clicking on the post below: