Schumer tells Democrats reluctant to nuke filibuster: ‘We are all going to go on the record’

Schumer tells Democrats reluctant to nuke filibuster: ‘We are all going to go on the record’

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Tuesday issued a stern warning to Republicans and Democrat defenders of the filibuster ahead of upcoming votes on Democrats’ election bills: “We are going to vote. We are all going to go on the record.”

Schumer, D-N.Y., made the comments immediately after opening floor debate on a piece of legislation the House passed last week combining two major Democrat-backed elections bills. He promised that the Senate will not only vote on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, but also on whether to defang the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster if Republicans block them, as they are expected to. 

“As we debate these measures, the Senate will confront the critical question: Shall the members of this chamber do what is necessary to pass these bills and bring them closer to the president’s desk?” Schumer said. “Today we have just taken the first steps that will put everyone, everyone on the record.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., waits to speak during an event to mark one year since the attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 6, 2022.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., waits to speak during an event to mark one year since the attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

SCHUMER VOWS TO TURN UP HEAT ON GOP ON VOTING RIGHTS, RISKS EXPOSING MODERATE DEMS ON FILIBUSTER

Democrats say the two elections bills are necessary to respond to GOP-passed election laws in red states that allegedly suppress minority votes. Schumer accused state-level Republicans of “trying to take away the vote from younger, black and brown, elderly, minority and low-income voters.”

The majority leader said the Senate’s upcoming vote on election legislation will force Republicans to “choose which side they stand on: Protecting democracy or offering their implicit endorsement of Donald Trump’s big lie.”

Republicans, meanwhile, say Democrats’ election bills are not only a solution in search of a problem, but that they amount to a massive federal takeover of state-administered elections. 

“The Democratic Leader is using fake hysteria about 2021 state laws to justify a power grab he began floating in 2019 and an election takeover that was first drafted in 2019,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said last week. 

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., makes a statement to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Oct. 6, 2021. Manchin supports the 60-vote filibuster.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., makes a statement to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Oct. 6, 2021. Manchin supports the 60-vote filibuster. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“10 days of early voting and excuse-only absentees in Delaware is just fine, but 17 days of early voting and no-excuse absentees in Georgia is racist Jim Crow?” McConnell added. “The Senate Democratic Leader pretends it is a civil rights crisis that Georgia has enshrined more early voting and more absentee balloting than his state of New York has ever allowed.”

SINEMA DOUBLES DOWN ON FILIBUSTER SUPPORT, DEALING LIKELY FATAL BLOW TO DEMS’ ELECTION BILLS

Schumer’s anti-filibuster effort is doomed to fail. All Republicans will oppose it and Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., doubled down on their opposition to a “nuclear option” step last week. 

The nuclear option is a parliamentary maneuver in which the Senate can set a new precedent for how it does business with just a simple majority. 

Democrats used it under former President Barack Obama to bring the filibuster threshold down from 60 to 51 for executive nominees and most federal judges. Republicans used the nuclear option under former President Donald Trump to do the same for Supreme Court nominees. 

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., delivers remarks on the Senate floor in support of the legislative filibuster, on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. 

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., delivers remarks on the Senate floor in support of the legislative filibuster, on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. 

Schumer does not have the votes for a third iteration of the nuclear option on legislation because he does not have all 50 members of his caucus on board. But he’s bringing it up anyway, as frustration builds with the moderates who are standing in the way of Democrats’ ability to pass their massive agenda with a razor-thin majority. 

“When this chamber confronts a question this important… you don’t slide it off the table and say, ‘nevermind,’” Schumer said Thursday. “Win, lose or draw members of this chamber were elected to debate and to vote… And the public is entitled to know where each senator stands on an issue as sacrosanct as defending our democracy.”

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Democrats will have a caucus meeting later Tuesday, during which they are expected to make a last-ditch effort to pressure Manchin and Sinema to nuke the filibuster. 

But Manchin and Sinema aren’t the only Democrats in the hot seat in Schumer’s filibuster vote.

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., faces a tough reelection race this year and hasn’t taken a firm stance on the controversial issue. Sens. Catherine Cortez-Masto, D-Nev., and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., among others, only staked out their positions in favor of changing the filibuster recently and likely won’t enjoy giving Republican opponents a Senate roll call vote to hold over their heads on the campaign trail. 

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