Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday night he would put forward a 'talking filibuster' proposal after an expected vote on a voting rights bill fails Wednesday.
At an evening press conference, surrounded by his Democratic colleagues, Schumer explained that if Republicans block the voting bill from proceeding - which they will, using the current filibuster rules where 60 votes are needed for cloture - he will have senators vote to change the rules for just the voting bill.
'We feel very simply: On something as important as voting rights if Senate Republicans are going to oppose it, they should not be allowed to sit in their office,' Schumer said. 'They've got to come down on the floor and defend their opposition to voting rights, the wellspring of our democracy.'
He explained that 'once member of the minority party have exhausted all of their speaking rights and defended their position on the Senate floor, debate will have run its course and the Seante will move to vote on final passage at a majority threshold, which has always been the threshold for final passage,' Schumer noted.
Earlier, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin - who with Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has stood in opposition to meddling with the filibuster rules - told reporters there's no precedent for allowing a simple majority vote to conclude a debate.
'That has never happened. that has never happened in the history of our country,' the West Virginia senator told reporters. 'I just don't know how you break a rule to make a rule,' he added.
Signaling he would not support Schumer's endeavor he added, 'There's no checks and balances in this process, the only thing we have is the filibuster.'
With the Senate split 50-50, without the votes of Manchin and Sinema, Schumer's rule change also won't pass.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday he would put forward a 'talking filibuster' proposal after the vote on voting rights fails Wednesday. Schumer's proposal would make senators have to hold the floor if they wanted to delay a vote. And once time expires, a simple majority could end debate. There's currently a 60-vote threshold for this procedural step
Sen. Joe Manchin said there's no precedent to allow a simple majority vote to wrap up a debate. 'That has never happened. that has never happened in the history of our country,' the West Virginia senator told reporters 'I just don't know how you break a rule to make a rule,' he added
Senate Democrats huddled on Capitol Hill early Wednesday evening in advance of Schumer's press conference.
Manchin joined in person, Sinema by phone, Punchbowl News reported.
In the meeting, Manchin expressed to his colleagues he would not support the effort.
Manchin has said he's opposed to changing the Senate's rules without Republican buy-in.
At his press conference, Schumer wouldn't talk about whether he'd support primary challengers running against Manchin and Sinema.
'I'm not getting into the politics. This is a substantive, serious issue,' Schumer answered.
Just hours before, Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the top progressive voices in the Senate, answered ''well, yeah,' when asked if he'd support primary challengers vying to unseat Manchin and Sinema.
'Legislators are moving aggressively to suppress the vote and to impose extreme gerrymandering among many other things. And anybody who believes in American democracy has got to vote to enable us to go forward with 50 votes to suspend the filibuster, at least on this vote,' Sanders said. 'It's enormously important, I hope we have 50 votes, if we don't, they're gonna have to go home and explain to their constituents.'
Sanders added that he believed there was a 'good chance' people in those states would support a primary challenger against the two moderates.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer began debate on the Democrats' doomed-voting rights legislation
Earlier Tuesday, Schumer began debate on the Democrats' doomed voting rights legislation and called Republican opposition to the bill an 'implicit endorsement of Donald Trump's big lie.'
The Senate Majority Leader took to the Senate floor to double down on his promise to try and kill the filibuster if Republicans use it to stop the legislation from advancing.
'The eyes of the nation will be watching what happens this week in the United States Senate,' Schumer said. 'The public is entitled to know where each senator stands on an issue as sacrosanct as defending our democracy. The American people deserve to see their senators go on record.'
'Republicans will have to choose which side they stand on protecting democracy or offering their implicit endorsement of Donald Trump's big lie,' he said, referring to Trump's false claim he won the 2020 election.
Meanwhile Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell slammed Democrats for their turn against the filibuster - a legislative weapon they wield when in the minority.
'Until the last couple of years, senators on both sides have understood the Senate is not here to rubber stamp massive changes under thin majorities,' he said.
'This is about one party wanting the power to unilaterally rewrite the rulebook,' he noted.
Chuck Schumer called Republican opposition to the bill an 'implicit endorsement of Donald Trump's big lie' - above Trump at a rally in Arizona on Saturday; he has falsely claimed he won the 2020 election
The action is expected to start on Wednesday when Schumer makes a motion to end debate on the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
That is when he'll need 60 votes in the 50-50 evenly split Senate to move the legislation forward. Given the united Republican opposition to it, that will fail.
Schumer has then vowed to hold a vote to kill the filibuster, allowing the legislation to proceed with a simple majority.
'The only path forward on this important issue is to change the rules to bypass the filibuster,' Schumer said Monday at an event marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 'Right now there are two Democrats who don't want to make that change. But that doesn't mean the fight is over—far from it.'
However, despite a heavy public pressure campaign, Manchin and Sinema have remained firm in their resolve to support the filibuster. Without their votes, Schumer's move will fail and the legislation will die on the Senate floor.
Senate Democrats will meet Tuesday evening for one last chance to lobby Manchin and Sinema.
The pressure has been intense on the two from both party leadership and the base.
The president put all his powers of persuasion behind this effort. He went to Capitol Hill to personally lobby Manchin and Sinema. When the two stuck to their guns in favor of the filibuster, he brought them to the White House Thursday night for another round of talks.
Biden tweeted on Tuesday: 'Jim Crow 2.0 is about two insidious things: voter suppression and election subversion. It's about making it harder to vote, who gets to count the vote, and whether your vote counts at all. We have to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.'
And White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended their decision to keep pushing the voting legislation.
'It's never a good idea not to shoot for the moon with what your proposals are and what you're fighting for. And the alternative is to fight for nothing.'
Pressure from Democratic leadership and the party base has been heavy on Senators Joe Manchin (left) and Kyrsten Sinema (right)
King's son Martin Luther King III compared Senator Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema's opposition to voting rights legislation to those who told his father to wait for a more 'convenient time' to fight segregation
Fellow Democratic lawmakers have criticized them.
'These two Democrats