Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has announced that a vote in the Senate will be held on Jan. 17 to change filibuster rules.
In a Dear Colleague letter, Schumer outlined how the Capitol incursion last year on Jan. 6 was an attack on democracy.
He added that the attacks on American democracy were not confined just to Jan. 6 — instead they have continued.
“As we all are witnessing, the attacks on our democracy have not ceased. In fact, they have only accelerated,” Schumer wrote.
“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,” he added.
Changing the filibuster rules on Jan. 17 will advance legislation on voting rights protections, the majority leader argued.
Democrats have been trying to pass an election and voting rights package, but it has been stalled in an evenly split Senate. It has been blocked by a Republican led filibuster, which has left the Democrats in the Senate unable to gain the 60 votes needed to pass the legislation.
In October as Democrats pushed for the Freedom to Vote Act, a voting rights legislation, it was soundly stopped by the Republican filibuster, as NPR reported at the time.
After the legislation was stalled in the fall, Vice President Kamala Harris said, “We’re not going to give up. We’ve never given up — those of us who have fought for the right of every American to express their voice through their vote. We’re going to continue to do the work.”
But there was no sign of Republicans budging on the issue, NPR reported.
Schumer’s current push to change the filibuster rules is a result of the Republicans halting the legislation. Changing the rules could make it possible for the legislation to advance.
He argued in his letter: “We must adapt. The Senate must evolve, like it has many times before.”
He also cited Jan. 6 again as a reason for the need of this new legislation that would allegedly protect voting and elections.
“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 wrote.
However, some Democrats are not fully on board with the idea of changing the filibuster rules, as the Associated Press reported.
Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have warned their party that changes to the Senate’s rules could allow Republicans in the future (if and when they take the majority again) to lower the voting threshold in the Senate and advance bills that the Democrats oppose.
However, Schumer’s letter ended on a determined note to move forward with the vote to change the filibuster rules.
“We hope our Republican colleagues change course and work with us,” he wrote. “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.”
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