Schumer plans to use loophole to bypass voting rights filibuster

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), faced with the proposition of 50 Republicans and two moderate Democrats refusing to budge on the filibuster, has found what he hopes is a way to force debate on election reform. However, the chances of Democrats forcing a vote remains remote.

According to a report in the New York Times, Democrats in the House, at the urging of Schumer, will package the John Lewis Voting Rights and For the People acts, place them in a different and unrelated bill, pass the new bill, and send it to the Senate.

In the House, where Democrats enjoy a majority, Republicans will be powerless to defeat the move, which will send the new bill to the Senate not as standard proposed legislation but as a “message.”

This is important because Republicans cannot filibuster a vote on beginning debate on a “message.” The net result will be that, through this loophole, Schumer will render the Republicans unable to prevent the start of debate on voting rights.

In a memo shared by the Times, Schumer wrote, “Taking advantage of this existing exception to the Senate’s supermajority requirements will allow us to end the Republicans’ ability to block debate on voting rights legislation. The Senate will finally debate voting rights legislation, and then every senator will be faced with a choice of whether or not to pass the legislation to protect our democracy.”

The memo isn’t entirely accurate. Although many on the left, including noted Democratic apologist MSNBC, championed Schumer’s plan, Democrats will have only succeeded in shoehorning a debate on voting rights and election reform, not a vote on final legislation.

Republicans can still prevent cloture, the means by which the Senate ends debate on any issue. Democrats need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster on cloture, and those votes do not exist. If the debate doesn’t end, a vote on the bill can’t take place.

When Republicans derail cloture, Democrats will then be faced with attempting to change Senate rules to remove the filibuster.

As of today, even with President Joe Biden urging a rules change, such an attempt would likely fail by a vote of 52-48, as all Republican Senators and at least moderate Democrats, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have either resisted or outright rejected the idea of jettisoning the filibuster on matters of legislation.

Democrats and Republicans have previously broken with Senate tradition to remove 60-vote requirements for the confirmation of presidential nominees, but the Senate has never foresworn the filibuster to facilitate the passage of a bill.

Publicly, Schumer has been mum on his plan, although he did take to Twitter to answer former President Barack Obama’s call to action on voting reforms.

“This Senate will move forward to protect our democracy and the sacred right to vote,” Schumer tweeted in part.

Republicans have been, predictably, unhappy with both President Biden’s rhetoric – he accused people who oppose Democrat-proposed voting rights bills of racism and compared them to segregationists – and Schumer’s plan to use loopholes to advance legislation.

“The truth is this is not about voting rights, this is about a partisan political power grab, and they are just trying to dress it up and sell it as something else,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) wrote on Facebook. “I just don’t think the American people are buying it.”

Sen. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) tweeted, “Democrats are ignoring inflation and crime in your neighborhood. Because today they’re working on legislation that gives the federal government power to prohibit states from having voter ID laws.”

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) did not offer his own comment but did retweet a post from the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

“Democrats’ elections bills aren’t about voting rights,” the tweet reads. “They’re about creating fake hysteria to scare people into accepting their ultimate goal: breaking the Senate, cementing their power, and overturning the filibuster.”

The official Twitter account of the Senate Republicans contains the following message: “Without the Filibuster, there’s nothing to stop democrats from ramming through their radical, socialist policies. Protect your voice. Stop the radical agenda.”

The John Lewis Voting Rights and For the People acts would grant authority to Congress to oversee and preapprove states’ election processes and require states to adopt numerous voting procedure changes, such as mail-in voting and same-day registration.