Schumer: Senate votes on filibuster changes to voting bill

WASHINGTON (AP), -- Just days before Jan. 6, 2001, the Capitol attack was commemorated, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that the Senate would vote on easing filibuster rules. This is in an effort by Democrats to move forward stalled voting legislation they believe is necessary to preserve America's democracy.

Schumer: Senate votes on filibuster changes to voting bill

Schumer, D.N.Y., wrote Monday to his colleagues that the Senate "must develop" and would "debate, and consider" rule changes by Jan. 17 Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This is as Democrats attempt to overcome Republican opposition for their election law package.

Schumer stated that January 6th was a sign of a larger illness -- an attempt to delegitimize the election process. "The Senate must promote systemic democracy reforms to fix our republic. Otherwise, the events of that day won't be an exception -- they will become the norm."

The 50-50 Senate is evenly divided. It has blocked the election and voting rights package from moving forward. Democrats were unable to gather the 60 votes necessary to pass it.

Despite months of private negotiations, Democrats have not been able to reach an agreement on potential changes to Senate rules to lower the hurdle to 60 votes.

Sens. Sens. Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Kyrsten Silena from Arizona have attempted to warn their party against changes to Senate rules. They argue that if Republicans gain majority control of the chamber, they will be able to use the lower voting threshold for bills Democrats strongly oppose.

President Joe Biden is only treading lightly into the debate. A former senator, he largely abides by the existing rules but is under immense political pressure to end the impasse on voting legislation.

Voting rights advocates warn Republican-led states are trying to install election officials loyally to Donald Trump in ways that could undermine future elections.

Trump exhorted his followers to fight like hell for his presidency last January 6, and a mob stormed Capitol trying to stop Congress certifying the state elections for Biden. This was the most violent domestic attack on any seat of government in American history.

It is still unclear how the Senate filibuster rules will be modified.

Democrats are unlikely to be able to end the filibuster in its entirety. All 50 votes would be required to change the rules, and Sinema and Manchin have indicated that they are not willing to go that far.

After seeing the negative consequences of the Democrats' ending the filibuster on some nominees for the executive and judicial branches, senators are wary about a major overhaul. After Republicans gained power, Senator Mitch McConnell (the GOP leader) eliminated the filibuster to nominate Supreme Court justices. This allowed three Trump-appointed conservative justices to be elected to the court.

However, Sinema and Manchin both support the election legislation, despite their resistance to major filibuster amendments. Manchin actually helped to craft the latest package, in an unsuccessful attempt to win Republican support. The two Democrats are now working with their colleagues to amend the filibuster to ensure that this legislation passes.

Since weeks, private talks with senators are ongoing. They were continued during the holiday break.

One idea is to force senators to stand up and speak, in an old-fashioned way, instead of raising their filibuster objections. This scene would echo the scenes from the 1950s and 60s, when Southern segregationists filibustered civil right legislation.

Others ideas are being considered. Some Democrats also noted that Sinema said she was open to hearing the arguments in a full debate.

Republicans are so concerned that Democrats will end the filibuster, McConnell has taken other steps to keep Manchin & Sinema close to ensure they don't join their party in making drastic changes.

On Monday, Senator Mike Lee of Utah, a Republican, claimed that ending the filibuster would make the Senate a "Lord of the Flies"-style institution, where the majority rules regardless of what.

Lee released a statement saying that the plan was "absurd and dangerous for the institution." He stated that Schumer and his "disastrous plans" must be stopped.

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