Schumer Says Senate Could Vote on Filibuster Changes Later This Month

Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D. New York) has said he will vote on the amendment to the filibuster in the next month if Republicans continue to block voting rights legislation.

This isn’t the first time Schumer has suggested changing filibuster rules as a means to subvert Republicans. In September He suggested that Democrats could change the filibuster ruleAfter the For the People Act was stopped, a compromise bill that was more moderately drafted by Joe Manchin (West Virginia), was eventually adoptedBlockade by a GOP filibuster too.

Schumer made a similar promise to change filibuster rules in early November, after Republicans blocked voting rights legislation for the fourth time in less than a year — that time, it was The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would have allowed federal oversight of state election laws to prevent racial disparity at the ballot box.

This time, Schumer’s promise appears to hold more weight, as he’s selected a day for Democrats to vote on changing the filibuster.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter on January 3, Schumer wrote about the anniversary of the January 6 Capitol attack, noting that the U.S. had faced numerous threats to its democracy since the 2020 presidential election — including the onslaught of Republican-backed voter suppression bills across the country.

“Much like the violent insurrectionists who stormed the US Capitol nearly one year ago, Republican officials in states across the country have seized on the former president’s Big Lie about widespread voter fraud to enact anti-democratic legislation and seize control of typically non-partisan election administration functions,” Schumer wrote. “While these actions all proceed under the guise of so-called ‘election integrity,’ the true aim couldn’t be more clear. They want to unwind the progress of our Union, restrict access to the ballot, silence the voices of millions of voters, and undermine free and fair elections.”

Schumer vowed that the Senate would “take strong action to stop this antidemocratic march” by passing voting rights protection bills. However, he said that Republicans could not block such legislation if Democrats do not change the filibuster rules.

“We must ask ourselves: if the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, then how can we in good conscience allow for a situation in which the Republican Party can debate and pass voter suppression laws at the State level with only a simple majority vote, but not allow the United States Senate to do the same?” Schumer said.

The Senate “must evolve, like it has many times before,” to address the assault on democratic rights, Schumer went on. He said that a vote on changing the filibuster was scheduled for January 17 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day — “to protect the foundation of our democracy: free and fair elections.”

Of course, it will be difficult for Democrats to persuade Republicans to allow the passage of voting rights legislation or to vote for altering the filibuster — and several moderates in the Democratic caucus have also expressed opposition to such a move, most notably Sens. Joe Manchin (West Virginia) and Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona) are two examples of moderates in the caucus. Other moderates in this caucus include Angus King of Maine, Tim Kaine (D–Virginia), and Jon Tester (D–Montana). have been negotiating with Manchin and Sinema since before the holidaysTo discuss amending filibuster rule. The rule could be amended to allow for a return to a standing or speaking filibuster to block legislation.

Schumer’s letter didn’t specify whether he wanted to make small changes to the filibuster or end the rule completely.

A poll from March last year showed that the majority of Americans favor ending the filibuster if it would allow for meaningful voting rights protections. In a Data for Progress/Vox survey52 percent of respondents indicated that they would support changing the archaic Senate rule to ensure the For the People Act was passed. Only 37 percent stated they would not.