U.S. Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer confirmed Tuesday night that if Republicans continue obstruction to a long-delayed vote rights package, he will move for the return of the talking filibuster to that legislation.
Schumer (D.N.Y.), flanked at right by other top Senate Democrats announcedThe plan was presented at a press conference following a caucus meeting. debateThe Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act was approved by the House.
This strategy was well-received by progressives, such as Christina Harvey, executive director at Stand Up America.
“Senate Democrats are on the Senate floor right now embracing a rare opportunity to substantively debate voting rights,” Harvey said. “But they have an even rarer opportunity to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act at the end of this debate, if they are willing to stand together and do it.”
“Now that they have found a way to open debate, under the current rules, Democrats can and must force a public debate that ends with a majority vote after every senator has exhausted their time,” she said. “It may take weeks, but if Senate Democrats can find the political courage this moment requires, they have the tools right now to pass voting rights legislation and save our democracy.”
Throughout the current congressional session, voting rights legislation has been blocked by Senate Republicans as well as two Democrats — Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — who have so far opposedReforming or abolishing the filibuster
Make Republicans start a speaking filibuster. We can then ask Senator Sinema, Senator Manchin: What was it that made the filibuster so important? To debate? Is this enough discussion? There is no limit on what we can do to save our democracy. pic.twitter.com/IQhEo7Dntw
— Rep. Andy Levin (@RepAndyLevin) January 18, 2022
“The Senate spent an entire year drafting, considering, and debating voting rights legislation,” Schumer said during the press conference. “Senate Republicans have spent the same amount of time refusing to negotiate with our members, including Sen. Manchin, or even debate this legislation.”
The Democratic leader highlighted that over the past year — in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” about the 2020 election — GOP state legislators have enactedThere are voter suppression laws in several key states across the country. This has prompted Congress to take action.
“If the Senate cannot protect the right to vote, which is the cornerstone of our democracy, then the Senate rules must be reformed,” Schumer declared. “If the Republicans block cloture on the legislation before us, I will put forward a proposal to change the rules to allow for a talking filibuster on this legislation.”
“We feel, very simply, on something as important as voting rights, if Senate Republicans are gonna oppose it, they should not be allowed to sit in their office,” he added. “They gotta come down on the floor and defend their opposition to voting rights, the wellspring of our democracy.”
The GOP shouldn’t be allowed to sit in their offices and block voting rights
They should be required to defend anti-voting positions and come to the podium
The Senate has an opportunity this week to do that—a vote to change Senate rules to promote public debate on voting rights pic.twitter.com/QvCQBcPI0w
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 19, 2022
Democratic Sens. The Democratic Sens.
After Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the majority whip. suggestedManchin rejected the talking filibuster approach to journalists on Tuesday.
Politico’s Burgess Everett tweeted that “Manchin says he doesn’t support a talking filibuster that goes around [the] 60-vote threshold and won’t support the nuclear option to change rules,” adding that the senator “says he’s fine with a primary challenge over this.”
According to the reporter, Manchin specifically said: “I’ve been primaried my entire life. That would not be anything new for me… It’s rough and tumble. We’re used to that. Bring it on.”
MANCHIN was told @christianjhall and other reporters he’s against this new talking filibuster plan. He is not willing to go nuclear, as has been repeatedly stated over the past few months. https://t.co/eIIwZjya5D
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) January 18, 2022
Though Schumer refused to indicate whether he would support 2024 primary challenges to Democrats who don’t get onboard with filibuster reform, only saying that “I’m not getting into the politics,” earlier in the day Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) toldJournalists, he would back such efforts.
“What’s at stake is the future of American democracy,” said Sanders. “And the fact that all over this country, Republican governors and legislators are moving aggressively to suppress the vote and to impose extreme gerrymandering, among many other things.”
“Anybody who believes in American democracy has got to vote to enable us to go forward with 50 votes to suspend the filibuster, at least on this vote,” he added.
Sen. Joe Manchin asked questions at the Dems’ caucus meeting, and several Democrats sought to “clarify” his view about the historic use of the filibuster, per source
Sen. Sinema was not physically present but participated on the phone and didn’t speak
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 18, 2022
As Common Dreams reportedIndivisible, a progressive advocacy organization, reported Tuesday that 94% percent of its members in Arizona voted for Sinema to be the primary candidate when she is up again in two years. If she sinks voting rights legislation, this would be their support.
Indivisible and Stand Up America figure among these organizations urging Senate Democrats to hold the Senate floor for “as long as it takes” to pass their voting rights package.
As Megan Hatcher-Mays, Indivisible’s director of democracy policy, put it: “We want a full airing of the ways Republicans are undermining our right to vote across the country — on a partisan basis, for the record — and how the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act would save our democracy from these attacks.”