Senate

Schumer vows Senate rules change vote despite ‘uphill fight’

Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) heads to a press conference after a virtual policy luncheon on Tuesday, January 4, 2022.
Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is doubling down on his pledge to force a vote on changes to the legislative filibuster, while acknowledging that supporters face an uphill climb on passing rules reforms. 

Schumer, speaking to reporters, vowed to hold a vote on the proposed changes to the Senate’s rules by Jan. 17. A group of Democrats that have spearheaded the voting rights discussion will meet with Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) later Tuesday as part of running negotiations. 

“It’s an uphill fight. I don’t want to give anybody the illusion that we’re there, but hopefully we can get 50 of us to come to an agreement,” Schumer said. 

Support for changing the legislative filibuster, which requires 60 votes for most legislation to advance in the Senate, has gained steam among the Senate Democratic caucus. But to get a rules change through the Senate without GOP support, Schumer needs total unity among the 50 members of his caucus.

Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have reiterated their support recently for the 60-vote hurdle, and Manchin has long opposed using the “nuclear option,” where the rules are changed along party lines.

Manchin, speaking with reporters earlier Tuesday, signaled skepticism about Democrats changing the legislative filibuster on their own.

“Being open to a rules change that would create a nuclear option, it’s very, very difficult. It’s a heavy lift,” Manchin told reporters. 

Democrats have held months of behind-the-scenes talks with Manchin, first to try to come to an agreement that united the caucus behind voting rights legislation and subsequently about potential changes to the Senate rules. 

Democrats haven’t landed on a specific plan for how to change the rules. They are discussing a talking filibuster that would allow opponents to slow down a bill for as long as they could hold the floor, creating a carve-out that would exempt voting rights legislation from the 60-vote hurdle or shifting from needing 60 votes to break a filibuster to needing 41 “no” votes to sustain it. 

Schumer added that there had been “many serious discussions” with Manchin, but said he hoped that his moderate colleague realized that Republicans were not going to help Democrats pass voting rights legislation. 

“Manchin of course would prefer to deal with Republicans,” Schumer said. “But I believe he knows that we will not get any Republican cooperation.”

Tags Charles Schumer filibuster reform Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema voting rights legislation

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