Chuck Schumer presses Sens. Manchin, Sinema to back filibuster change

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) launched a final push Tuesday to ramp up pressure on Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to support a rules change meant to ease the passage of a sweeping election reform bill.

The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on changes to the rules that would provide a workaround of the chamber’s 60-vote legislative filibuster. The vote is almost certain to fail due to Manchin and Sinema’s staunch opposition to changing the requirement.

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Despite his effort’s likely futility, Schumer insisted on the Senate floor that members will be forced to go on the record on the issue.

“Much has been said over the past few days about the prospects of passing voting rights legislation in this chamber,” he said. “Senate Democrats are under no illusion that we face difficult odds, especially when virtually every Senate Republican – virtually every Senate Republican – is staunchly against legislation protecting the right to vote.

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chuck schumer, democrats, elections, filibuster, joe manchin, kyrsten sinema, mitch mcconnell, republicans, senate

In a final push to change the filibuster, Schumer said those — particularly Republicans — opposing the measure “is staunchly against legislation protecting the right to vote.”

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“But I want to be clear: When this chamber confronts a question this important—one so vital to our country, so vital to our ideals, so vital to the future of our democracy—you don’t slide it off the table and say, ‘Never mind.’”

In response, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pointed out that the 60-vote filibuster was used by Democrats to defeat a Russia sanctions bill pushed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

“Democrats want the American people to believe the filibuster was not a Jim Crow relic in 2005; was not a Jim Crow relic in 2020; became a Jim Crow relic in 2021; briefly stopped being a Jim Crow relic last Thursday; but is now back to being a Jim Crow relic this week?” mocked McConnell, who went on to call the legislation a “partisan takeover” of the election system.

chuck schumer, democrats, elections, filibuster, joe manchin, kyrsten sinema, mitch mcconnell, republicans, senate

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell clapped back at Schumer, saying Democrats used the 60-vote filibuster to defeat a Russia sanctions bill pushed by Sen. Ted Cruz.

Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA

“We have inflation, a pandemic, rampant violent crime, a border crisis, and the possibility of a war on the European continent,” he added. “But rather than work on any of that, Senate Democrats want to mar their own legacies with a reckless procedural vote they know will fail.

“A faction this desperate for unlimited short-term power is a faction that must be denied it,” McConnell concluded.

Both Manchin and Sinema have asserted that while they support The Freedom to Vote Act and The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which were combined into one massive piece of legislation by the House last week, they believe the filibuster is a vital component of the Senate and that amending it would deepen America’s political divide.

Proponents of the legislation have cited stricter voting laws enacted in Republican-led states, which they allege disenfranchise minority voters, and last year’s Capitol riot as proof that reform is urgently needed. Senate Republicans have offered to help amend the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to clarify the role of Congress in certifying election results and guard against a repeat of the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

Meanwhile, talk of primary challenges against Manchin and Sinema as a result of their stance has begun to pick up pace, though neither is up for reelection until 2024.

Tuesday evening, the head of the pro-choice group EMILY’s List announced it would no longer endorse Sinema if she stuck to her filibuster stance.

chuck schumer, democrats, elections, filibuster, joe manchin, kyrsten sinema, mitch mcconnell, republicans, senate

Both Sens. Sinema and Manchin have publicly opposed measures to amend the filibuster, claiming that to do so will deepen the divide between the country’s political parties.

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“[I]f Sen. Sinema cannot support a path forward for passage of this legislation, we believe she undermines the foundations of our democracy, her own path to victory and also the mission of EMILY’s List, and we will be unable to endorse her moving forward,” read the statement from organization president Laphonza Butler.

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