Jan 3, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Schumer promises vote on Senate rules changes by MLK Day

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

Photo: Sarah SIlbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Democrats will use Thursday's anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol to propel their efforts to pass sweeping voting rights legislation.

Driving the news: In a letter to colleagues Monday morning, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the Senate will debate and vote on changing Senate rules if Republicans block a vote on the Freedom to Vote Act backed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Schumer promised a vote on Senate reforms by Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 17.

Why it matters: This is the furthest Schumer has gone in calling on Democrats to change Senate rules to bypass Republican obstruction to their efforts to protect or expand voting rights.

Behind the scenes: Meetings on potential rules changes with senators including Manchin, Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Angus King (I-Maine) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) continued over the break and will continue this week, Senate leadership aides say.

What they're saying: "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," Schumer said in the letter.

  • "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? We must adapt. The Senate must evolve, like it has many times before."
  • "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."

Read the letter.

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