Senate Democrats have devised an approach to advance voting rights legislation, temporarily evading the GOP filibuster.
Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer (D,New York) described the plan in a memo that was sent to the Democratic caucus this Wednesday.
The House will adopt a bill unrelated to NASA funding. The bill will be sent to the Senate as a “message,” which will allow Democrats to open debate on the legislation with only a simple majorityInstead of the usual 60-vote threshold for new bills, this threshold is now a.
Instead of voting for the NASA bill, Democrats will remove the language from it and instead vote. replace it with language from voting rights billsThat Republicans have blocked multiple timesThe past year.
This plan does not allow for a filibuster but final passage of voting rights legislation will still require a confrontation with the Senate rule. Either Republicans will have to allow a vote on the bill without blocking it — a highly unlikely possibility — or Democrats, faced with a GOP filibuster, will have to amend the rule after the bill is blocked.
“To ultimately end debate and pass the voting rights legislation, we will need 10 Republicans to join us — which we know from past experience will not happen — or we will need to change the Senate rules as has been done many times before,” Schumer wrote in his memo.
At that point, “every senator will be faced with a choice of whether or not to pass the legislation to protect our democracy,” Schumer added.
The specific changes that Schumer wants to make to the filibuster are not yet clear, but there are many options. Democrats could restore the “talking filibuster,” which would require a senator to speak nonstop in order to block legislation. They could also create a “carve-out” that allows exceptions to the filibuster rule if a bill relates to voting rights. Finally, Democrats could opt to ditch the rule altogether – but although progressive advocates have repeatedly called for the elimination of the filibuster, it’s unlikely that this measure will be considered.
Even Senate Democrats aren’t sure which path Schumer will take.
“I really don’t know what the leader is thinking at this stage. He has not shared that with us,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland).
Democrats have been having difficulty negotiating with conservative senators, such as Sen. Joe Manchin (D.West Virginia), who want to keep filibuster intact. Shortly before President Joe Biden made a speech about voting rights, and the need to amend the filibuster rule. Manchin told a reporter that he’d only support an alteration to the rule if it had broad bipartisan support — a highly unlikely scenario.
For weeks, moderates from the Senate Democratic caucus were negotiating with Manchin about the filibuster. Recently, a source with knowledge of the negotiations said that Manchin’s inconsistency has been a major obstacle.
“You think you’re just about there. You think you’ve got an agreement on most of the things and it’s settling in. And then you come back the next morning and you’re starting from scratch,” According to the source.