Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday announced that the Senate would hold a vote later this month on changing the filibuster rules if Republicans again block Democrats’ voting rights legislation, The Associated Press reports.
Schumer set a deadline of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on January 17 in a letter to colleagues vowing to "debate and consider changes to Senate rules" if Republicans again filibuster voting rights legislation.
"Over the coming weeks, the Senate will once again consider how to perfect this union and confront the historic challenges facing our democracy," Schumer wrote in the letter. "We hope our Republican colleagues change course and work with us. 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."
Plan faces opposition:
There is little evidence that Republicans would allow Democrats to pass any voting rights legislation, which they have panned as a Democratic power-grab even as Republican-led state legislatures impose a slew of new voting restrictions.
If Schumer does plan to forge ahead with a vote on Senate rules, he faces opposition inside his own party as well.
Though centrist Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have supported voting rights legislation they vehemently oppose changing the filibuster rules.
President Joe Biden last month threw his support behind changing Senate rules to pass voting rights legislation but it’s unclear what kind of rule change would allow the Senate to pass such a bill while also gaining the approval of Manchin and Sinema.
Schumer links Jan. 6 to voting restrictions:
Schumer in his letter on Monday framed the Democrats’ voting rights proposals as a way to fight the GOP-imposed voting restrictions, which he linked to the January 6 Capitol riot.
"Make no mistake about it: this week Senate Democrats will make clear that what happened on January 6th and the one-sided, partisan actions being taken by Republican-led state legislatures across the country are directly linked, and we can and must take strong action to stop this anti-democratic march," Schumer wrote.
"We must adapt," he added. "The Senate must evolve, like it has many times before. The Senate was designed to evolve and has evolved many times in our history."