Schumer lays out strategy for voting rights debate 

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerVoting rights failed in the Senate — where do we go from here? Forced deadline spurs drastic tactic in Congress Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE (D-N.Y.) offered new details on Wednesday for how he would bring up voting rights legislation, the first step in a fight over the Senate filibuster.

Schumer sent a memo to Senate Democrats outlining how he would bring up a bill this week that combines sweeping election overhauls and voting rights legislation.

Schumer is planning to use Senate procedure to bypass a 60-vote requirement typically needed to start debate by considering the bill as a “message,” a loophole that lets them bypass how many times they need to break a filibuster.


The bill will still need 60 votes before it can ultimately pass, meaning Republicans will still have the chance to block it.

But Schumer is hoping that using the alternate pathway will at least allow Democrats to have a debate on voting rights legislation.

“With this procedure, we will finally have an opportunity to debate voting rights legislation – something that Republicans have thus far denied,” Schumer wrote.

“Of course, to ultimately end debate and pass the voting rights legislation, we will need 10 Republicans to join us – which we know from past experience will not happen – or we will need to change the Senate rules as has been done many times before,” he added.

Schumer’s memo comes as he pledged to force a vote on election-related legislation. The bill he’ll bring up, which is expected to pass the House as soon as Wednesday, will combine the Freedom to Vote Act, which would overhaul federal elections, with a separate proposal named after the late Rep. John LewisJohn LewisTrump and Biden should stop denigrating US elections Democrats say change to filibuster just a matter of time Despite Senate setbacks, the fight for voting rights is far from over MORE (D-Ga.) that would expand the Voting Rights Act.


Both have previously been blocked in the Senate. Once Republicans block the bill being passed by the House this week, Schumer has vowed that he will move to try to change the legislative filibuster, which requires 60 votes for most legislation to advance in the Senate.

Schumer doesn’t lay out in the memo how he would try to change the Senate’s filibuster or when the votes will be. He has repeatedly said it will take place by Monday, Jan. 17.

To change the rules they need the support of all 50 Democratic senators, something they don’t yet have. Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBiden to meet with CEOs to discuss Build Back Better agenda Hoyer says 'significant' version of Build Back Better will pass this year Gallego went to New York to meet Sinema donors amid talk of primary challenge: report MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaGallego went to New York to meet Sinema donors amid talk of primary challenge: report The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden's public moment of frustration The Armageddon elections to come MORE (D-Ariz.) haven’t yet said they will vote to change the rules on a simple majority.

Democrats also haven’t yet landed on how they will try to change the filibuster.

One option includes moving to a talking filibuster, where opponents could delay the bill for as long as they could hold the floor, but legislation would ultimately be able to pass with a simple majority. They are also mulling a carveout that would exempt voting rights legislation from needing 60 votes.