Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer is punting the debate on rewriting the nation’s voting laws to next week, but promising to force a vote on blowing up the filibuster if for no other reason than to put every lawmaker “on record.”
The New York Democrat announced the schedule change late Thursday after two members of his caucus announced their opposition to gutting the 60-vote filibuster threshold. Officially, Mr. Schumer said the delay was due to the weather and one Senate Democrat self-quarantining after testing positive for the coronavirus.
“Due to the circumstances regarding COVID and another potentially hazardous winter storm approaching the D.C. area this weekend, the Senate will adjourn tonight,” Mr. Schumer said. “We will return on Tuesday to take up the House-passed message containing voting rights legislation.”
The Senate was supposed to vote on two partisan voting measures this weekend. If the chamber failed because of a GOP filibuster, Mr. Schumer pledged to hold a vote on blowing up the 60-vote threshold.
Those plans were thrown into disarray when Sen. Kyrsten Sinema reasserted her opposition to weakening the filibuster. Ms. Sinema, a moderate Arizona Democrat, argued that getting rid of the rule would only exacerbate the “disease of division” across America.
“There is no need for me to restate my long-standing support for the 60-vote threshold to pass legislation,” she said. “Eliminating the 60-vote threshold will simply guarantee that we lose a critical tool that we need to safeguard our democracy.”
Since all 50 Senate Democrats needed to line up behind jettisoning the filibuster, Ms. Sinema’s opposition, combined with that of Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia effectively killed any hopes for the idea.
Mr. Schumer is refusing to take no for an answer, however.
“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,” he said. “In the coming days we will confront this sobering question, and every member will go on record.”
Democratic leaders say it is necessary to blow up the Senate rules to combat a slew of new election laws in Republican-run states.
President Biden, in particular, said this week in a speech in Georgia that those laws are racist and compared supporters of them to Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Bull Connor, the civil-rights era police chief of Birmingham, Alabama.