Eli Zupnick of Fix Our Senate: “We’re closer than ever to reforming the filibuster to protect Americans voting rights and the health of our democracy … Now it’s time to turn Democrats’ rhetoric into reality and to deliver on the filibuster reforms that are sorely needed to fix the broken Senate. We don’t have time to waste.”
WASHINGTON, DC — This morning, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) released a Dear Colleague letter that included a pledge to revisit voting rights legislation in early January and to address the filibuster that stands in the way of its passage. As the letter noted:
“[I]f 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? If Senate Republicans continue to abuse the filibuster and prevent the body from considering this bill, the Senate will then consider changes to any rules which prevent us from debating and reaching final conclusion on important legislation.
… I believe our constituents deserve to know which Senators choose to hide behind ill-conceived and abused rules and which Senators prefer to restore Senate floor procedures to better align with the Founders’ intentions. As Former Senator Robert C. Byrd said in 1979, Senate rules that seemed appropriate in the past ‘must be changed to reflect changed circumstances.’”
Eli Zupnick, spokesperson for Fix Our Senate, issued the following statement in response:
“We’re closer than ever to reforming the filibuster to protect Americans voting rights and the health of our democracy.
"The entire Democratic caucus supports strong voting rights and democracy bills and the entire Democratic caucus is engaged in conversations on how best to reform the filibuster. We thank Majority Leader Schumer and his colleagues for their resolve and commitment in the face of Republicans’ abuse of current Senate rules.
"Now it’s time to turn Democrats’ rhetoric into reality and to deliver on the filibuster reforms that are sorely needed to fix the broken Senate. We don’t have time to waste.”
Additional Background on Senators Manchin and Sinema
- Senator Manchin has long demonstrated openness to Senate filibuster reforms in the tradition of his predecessor WV Senator Robert Byrd. In 2011, Sen. Manchin voted to eliminate the filibuster on the motion to proceed and voted in favor of a talking filibuster. More recently, in both June 2021 comments reported by The Intercept and an exchange with NBC News last week, Sen. Manchin expressed openness to reform, including support for the talking filibuster and shifting the burden of maintaining the filibuster to the 41 Senators obstructing.
- In February 2021, Senator Manchin called himself, “a person that's going to defend the legacy of Robert C. Byrd” - a man who voted in both 1975 and in 1979 to reform the filibuster and who made the powerful, pro-reform floor speech that Majority Leader Schumer’s Dear Colleague letter excerpted.
- Senator Sinema has stated opposition to “eliminating” the filibuster but is open to reforms, including calling for a “debate” on the issue.
- Senator Sinema has called Senator John McCain her “hero.” In 2017, Senator McCain voted to change the filibuster to make a simple majority vote sufficient to confirm Supreme Court nominees, saying: “I find myself torn between protecting the traditions and practices of the Senate and the importance of having a full complement of justices on the Supreme Court. I’m left with no choice. I will vote to change the rules and allow Judge Gorsuch to be confirmed by a simple majority.”