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Senate to take up voting rights bill Tuesday, missing Schumer deadline

Senate to take up voting rights bill Tuesday, missing Schumer deadline

 

 

“I have a short announcement about the schedule. Due to circumstances regarding COVID and another potentially hazard winter storm approaching the D.C. area this weekend, the Senate will adjourn tonight. However, we will be postponing the recess so the Senate can vote on voting rights. We will return on Tuesday to take up the House-passed message containing voting rights legislation,” Schumer said from the floor. 

 

The Senate had been scheduled to be out of town after Friday for a one-week recess, but Schumer’s move means the break will be delayed. Schumer said the one-week recess will now take place the week of Jan. 24. 

 

 

 

 

Though Democrats are using a procedural loophole to sidestep the ability for Republicans to block them from debating the voting legislation, they will still need 60 votes to overcome a hurdle on ending debate. If Republicans block the bill, Schumer pledged on Thursday night to move forward with trying to change the Senate’s filibuster. 

 

“Members of this chamber were elected to debate and to vote, particularly on an issue as vital to the beating heart of our democracy as this one, and we will proceed. And if the Senate Republicans choose obstruction over protecting the sacred right to vote, as we expect them to, the Senate will consider and vote on changing the Senate rules,” Schumer said. 

 

 

Democrats haven’t yet outlined what their rules change proposal will be as they try to figure out what unifies most of the caucus. They are discussing the possibility for a talking filibuster, which would let opponents delay the bill for as long as they could hold the floor. After that the bill could pass with a simple majority. But there are questions among Democratic senators about how to structure the details of a talking filibuster and the mechanics of how it would work. 

 

Democrats are also discussing the possibility of a carve-out for voting legislation, which would exempt the legislation from needing 60 votes while keeping the hurdle intact for other bills. 

 

 

Even as they are poised to fail, Democrats view voting rights legislation as too big of a priority to not push forward and are under intense pressure from their base to go all in to try to pass a bill, even if they fall short. But forcing a rules change vote will also mean that Senate Democrats, including vulnerable 2022 incumbents, will have to go on the record in what could become fodder for GOP campaigns. 

 

Schumer, however, argued on Thursday night that senators “were elected to debate and to vote, particularly on an issue as vital to the beating heart of our democracy as this one.” 

 

“If the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, then how can we in good conscience allow for a situation in which the Republican Party can debate and pass voter suppression laws at the state level with only a simple majority vote, but not allow the United States Senate to do the same?” Schumer asked. “In the coming days we will confront this sobering question.” 



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