Schumer vows to keep fighting on voting rights after filibuster defeat

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowed that Democrats would keep trying to find a path forward for voting rights legislation after they failed to pass a rules change to exempt election legislation from the legislative filibuster. 

Schumer — speaking from the floor after Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voted with all Republicans to defeat the rules change — called the setback “disappointing” but said Democrats would “keep working until voting rights are protected for every American.” 

“It will not deter Senate Democrats from continuing our fight against voter suppression, dark money and partisan gerrymandering. With no support from Senate Republicans, many of whom deny the very existence of voter suppression, we faced an uphill battle, but because of this fight and the fact that each senator had to show where they stand, we are closer to achieving our goal,” Schumer said. 

“Now that every senator has gone on record, the American people have seen who’s on the side of protecting voting rights, and it will only strengthen our resolve as we work to ensure our democracy does not backslide,” Schumer added. 

Even though the outcome of the vote was baked in, Schumer tried on Wednesday night to change the Senate’s rules to let the voting rights bill bypass the legislative filibuster, which requires 60 votes for most legislation to advance. The move came after Republicans blocked legislation that combined the Freedom to Vote Act, which overhauls federal elections and campaign finance laws, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which strengthens the 1965 Voting Rights Act. 

Even as Schumer vowed to fight on, it wasn’t immediately clear what the next steps are. Democrats are increasingly turning to trying to revive the Build Back Better legislation, while a bipartisan group of senators are eyeing narrower changes to the Electoral Count Act, which lays out how the Electoral College results are counted. 

The attempt to change the rules ramped up tensions in the Senate, both between Democrats, who went increasingly public with their frustration with Sinema and Manchin, and Democrats and Republicans. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) floated that Wednesday “is in all likelihood the most important day in the history of the Senate as an institution” and accused Democrats of trying to “not only break their word,” after previously supporting the filibuster, “but also break the Senate.” 

“There’s really only one question that we’re dealing with here, just one, not complicated — will it take 60 votes to pass massive changes or a simple majority to ram them through? That’s what is at stake here. Nothing else,” he said. 

“For the first time in history, almost an entire political party will write in permanent ink they would shatter the soul of the Senate for short-term power. Shatter the soul of the Senate for short-term power,” he added. 

Tags Charles Schumer filibuster carveout Freedom to Vote Act Joe Manchin John Lewis John Lewis Voting Rights Act Kyrsten Sinema Mitch McConnell voting rights

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