Senate Republicans blocked consideration of two “voting rights” bills on Wednesday night, setting the stage for Democrats to try remove the legislative filibuster.
The Senate voted 49-51 not to invoke cloture on the motion to concur in the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 5746. H.R. 5746, an unrelated NASA bill and the legislative vehicle for two voting rights bills, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Democrats overwhelmingly voted for cloture, while Republicans voted in lockstep against the motion. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) voted against the motion so that he could bring it up again.
Now that Republicans blocked the bill, Schumer could likely try to remove the legislative filibuster and replace it with a “talking filibuster.” The Senate requires 60 votes to invoke cloture and end debate on legislation, but the talking filibuster would require senators to continuously speak on the Senate floor to prevent a vote on the floor. If senators stop speaking, the Senate would only require 51 votes to pass legislation.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said in a statement after the vote:
Today, Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden led the left in an attempt to blow up the Senate rules to federalize elections. Washington Democrats want to silence Americans, ban voter ID, and take away Tennessee’s ability to draw our own congressional districts. States like Tennessee – not radicals in Washington — must remain in control of our elections.
Schumer has stated that the Senate needs to remove the legislative filibuster to protect American democracy.
The New York Democrat said that Democrats would likely fail to remove the filibuster. Schumer said ahead of the vote:
Senate Democrats are under no illusion that we face an uphill fight, especially when virtually every Republican has remained staunchly against every attempt to pass voting rights legislation. Win, lose or draw, we are going to vote.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) rebuked Democrats for trying to remove the filibuster, saying on the Senate floor before the vote:
For the last year, my Democratic colleagues have taken to the Senate floor … to argue that repealing the filibuster is restoring the vision the Founding Fathers intended for this deliberative body. My friends, that is simply not true.
He added, “The United States Senate has never in 233 years been able to end debate on legislation with a simple majority vote.”
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.