Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has a plan — and in just 14 days it could make (or break) the Democratic Party’s goals for the New Year.
Schumer announced the Senate will formally vote on filibuster rules changes to advance stalled federalized voting laws that Democrats say are needed to protect democracy — and Republicans deride as needlessly complex and vulnerable to meddling.
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Schumer is prepared to unleash the so-called “nuclear option” to overcome Republican Party opposition to President Joe Biden’s massive spending agenda — but he’ll need support from frequent moderate holdouts like Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Kristen Sinema, D-A.Z.
In a letter Monday to colleagues, Schumer said the Senate “must evolve” and will “debate and consider” the rules changes by Jan. 17, on or before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as the Democrats seek to overcome Republican opposition to forever changing the way elections are held.
He invoked the anniversary of the January 6th Capitol Riot to drive home his plea for Democratic support.
“Let me be clear: January 6th was a symptom of a broader illness — an effort to delegitimize our election process,” Schumer wrote, “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.”
The bill has been stalled in the evenly-split 50-50 Senate, blocked by a Republican-led filibuster and leaving Democrats unable to mount the 60-vote threshold needed to advance it toward passage.
Democrats have been unable to agree among themselves over potential changes to the Senate rules to reduce the 60-vote hurdle, despite months of private negotiations.
Two holdout Democrats, Manchin and Sinema, have tried to warn their party off changes to the Senate rules, arguing that when Republicans take majority control of the chamber, they could use the lower voting threshold to advance bills Democrats oppose.
Under enormous political pressure to break the logjam on the voting legislation, President Joe Biden has also waded cautiously into the debate.
How the Senate rules would be changed remains under discussion.
Liberal activists warn that Republican-led states are passing election legislation and trying to install elections officials loyal to the former president, Donald Trump, in ways that could subvert future elections.
Republicans argue that election legislation and security reforms are needed to give greater confidence to voters after a riot attempted to disrupt the Jan. 6th Electoral College certification.
The Associated Press contributed to this article