Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Monday that the Senate is prepared to debate changes on the filibuster rule if Republicans continue to block the advancement of voting rights legislation.
In a letter to other senators, the New York Democrat set a deadline of Jan. 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, for the chamber to consider revising the filibuster rules – which require a 60-vote threshold for legislation to move ahead in the evenly divided Senate.
“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 democracy reforms to repair our republic or else the events of that day will not be an aberration – they will be the new norm,” Schumer said in the letter.
“Given the urgency of the situation and imminence of the votes, we as Senate Democrats must urge the public in a variety of different ways to impress upon their Senators the importance of acting and reforming the Senate rules, if that becomes a prerequisite for action to save our democracy.”
While all 50 Democratic Senators have expressed support for one or more of the voting rights bills introduced, not all have agreed to changes in the filibuster to pass the legislation.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema have expressly come out against changes.
According to Axios, meetings about rule changes took place over the holiday break with Manchin and other lawmakers, including Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., and will continue this week.
“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 wrote in his letter.
Schumer’s letter comes the same week as the first anniversary of the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, which saw a mob of Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.
Schumer slammed the Republicans and others that still cling to Trump’s repeatedly debunked false claims that the 2020 election was rigged.
“Much like the violent insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. 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,” the majority leader wrote.
“We hope our Republican colleagues change course and work with us,” Schumer wrote in his letter. “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.”