Senate Will Vote on Filibuster Rules for Voting Bill, Terms of Potential Changes Unclear

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said a stalled voting bill needs the Senate to vote on filibuster rules to help move the legislation along by Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Republicans started a filibuster on the election law package that Democrats said is needed to protect democracy. The problem the Senate faces is that it's currently spilt 50-50 and the Democrats need support from the Republicans to reach the required 60 votes to advance the voting bill.

Schumer, a New York Democrat, wrote in a letter to his colleagues on Monday announcing a vote in the Senate. He wrote the Senate will "debate and consider" changes to the rules by January 17 and said the Senate "must evolve."

There have been months of private negotiations, but the Democrats have not reached an agreement among themselves about how to change the Senate rules to reduce the 60-vote mandate.

It is unknown how the Senate rules would be changed and the topic remains under discussion.

Chuck Schumer Vote on Filibuster Rules
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants the Senate to vote on filibuster rules so they can advance stalled voting legislation. Above, Schumer speaks at a press conference after a luncheon with Senate Democrats at the U.S. Capitol Building on October 19, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Schumer announced the vote on filibuster rules changes just days before the anniversary of the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

"Let me be clear: January 6th was a symptom of a broader illness — an effort to delegitimize our election process," Schumer wrote, "and the Senate must advance systemic democracy reforms to repair our republic or else the events of that day will not be an aberration — they will be the new norm."

Two holdout Democrats, Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have tried to warn their party off changes to the Senate rules, arguing that if and when Republicans take majority control of the chamber, they could use the lower voting threshold to advance bills Democrats oppose.

President Joe Biden has waded cautiously into the debate—a former senator who largely stands by existing rules but is also under enormous political pressure to break the logjam on the voting legislation.

Voting rights advocates warn that Republican-led states are passing election legislation and trying to install elections officials loyal to the former president, Donald Trump, in ways that could subvert future elections.

Trump urged his followers last January 6 to "fight like hell" for his presidency, and a mob stormed the Capitol trying to stop Congress from certifying the state election tallies for Biden. It was the worst domestic attack on the seat of government in U.S. history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.