Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerClyburn on updating election law: ‘What is true today was not true then’ Biden eulogizes Reid as a fighter ‘for the America we all love’ Like it or not, all roads forward for Democrats go through Joe Manchin MORE (D-N.Y.) offered new details on Wednesday for how he would bring up voting rights legislation, the first step in a fight over the Senate filibuster.
Schumer sent a memo to Senate Democrats outlining how he would bring up a bill this week that combines sweeping election overhauls and voting rights legislation.
Schumer is planning to use Senate procedure to bypass a 60-vote requirement typically needed to start debate by considering the bill as a “message,” a loophole that lets them bypass how many times they need to break a filibuster.
The bill will still need 60 votes before it can ultimately pass, meaning Republicans will still have the chance to block it.
But Schumer is hoping that using the alternate pathway will at least allow Democrats to have a debate on voting rights legislation.
“With this procedure, we will finally have an opportunity to debate voting rights legislation – something that Republicans have thus far denied,” Schumer wrote.
“Of course, 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,” he added.
Schumer’s memo comes as he pledged to force a vote on election-related legislation. The bill he’ll bring up, which is expected to pass the House as soon as Wednesday, will combine the Freedom to Vote Act, which would overhaul federal elections, with a separate proposal named after the late Rep. John LewisJohn LewisAbrams thanks Biden for Georgia speech, backs call for Senate rules change Biden’s Georgia speech was a call to save democracy as we know it Biden calls Jan. 6 riot an attempted ‘coup’ MORE (D-Ga.) that would expand the Voting Rights Act.
Both have previously been blocked in the Senate. Once Republicans block the bill being passed by the House this week, Schumer has vowed that he will move to try to change the legislative filibuster, which requires 60 votes for most legislation to advance in the Senate.
Schumer doesn’t lay out in the memo how he would try to change the Senate’s filibuster or when the votes will be. He has repeatedly said it will take place by Monday, Jan. 17.
To change the rules they need the support of all 50 Democratic senators, something they don’t yet have. Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinAbrams thanks Biden for Georgia speech, backs call for Senate rules change Biden’s Georgia speech was a call to save democracy as we know it Stacey Abrams’s shocking snub of Biden, Harris signals possible 2024 aspirations MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaAbrams thanks Biden for Georgia speech, backs call for Senate rules change Biden’s Georgia speech was a call to save democracy as we know it Stacey Abrams’s shocking snub of Biden, Harris signals possible 2024 aspirations MORE (D-Ariz.) haven’t yet said they will vote to change the rules on a simple majority.
Democrats also haven’t yet landed on how they will try to change the filibuster.
One option includes moving to a talking filibuster, where opponents could delay the bill for as long as they could hold the floor, but legislation would ultimately be able to pass with a simple majority. They are also mulling a carveout that would exempt voting rights legislation from needing 60 votes.