Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., on Monday said Democrats have “lots of ways” to pass two voting rights bills — including by changing the rules governing a filibuster.
In an interview with SiriusXM’s Joe Madison on “The Black Eagle” on Senate action for the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, Schumer likened the bills to precautionary measures taken to prevent a fire.
“Raphael Warnock said it best,” Schumer said. “[Democrat] Sen. Warnock of Georgia, our first African American Senator ever from Georgia … he put it this way. He said the Freedom to Vote Act is when your house is on fire and they send a fire truck over and put the fire out. John Lewis Voting Rights Act is you build a first class firehouse in your neighborhood so the fire doesn’t occur again.”
Schumer declared “we gotta pass both of them” — and suggested support from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., will be key.
“Every one of the 50 [Democrat] senators supports the bill, but we’ll never get Republicans,” Schumer said. “And we’ve proven that to Joe Manchin and everybody else because we gave Joe a couple of months, and said, ‘hey, we have a bill, all Democrats support, including you’ but we couldn’t get Republicans.”
According to Schumer, though some Democrats “think the filibuster is a turkey,” it has been “changed in many ways” over the years.
“Joe Manchin has said he doesn’t want to abolish the filibuster,” Schumer said.
“So we have said, okay, there are other ways to change the rules where we could still only need 50 votes to pass” both voting bills, Schumer added. “There are lots of ways to do it.”
Schumer noted the late former West Virginia Democrat Sen. Robert Byrd was “the mentor of Joe Manchin” and “changed the rules I think it is nine times because he said …’when circumstances change, the rules have to change.'”
“So there are things we can propose,” Schumer asserted. “We can propose a talking filibuster. Let him talk for a period of time, but then we close it with 50 votes.”
“We could say, okay, we guarantee — I would as majority leader guarantee — that there’d be a whole number of Republican amendments allowed on the floor, but then we close the debate with 50 votes,” he added.
“There are various rules changes that are not abolishing the filibuster that would allow us to get to our goal. And as we speak, there are members, the rules committee and others exploring this with Joe Manchin.”
Manchin has taken center stage in the Senate in recent days in the wake of his decision not to back President Joe Biden’s signature Build Back Better social spending and climate change legislation.
Schumer told the radio host he hoped voters would do their part and “keep up the drum beat” to pass the voting bills.
“We need all of the anger and the protests, et cetera, that have occurred here,” he said. “They’ve had an effect on the whole Senate and on the whole country. The whole country as a whole, wants to undo these horrible Republican laws.”
“So now we’re in the final stages and we’re asking people to keep up the pressure, calling their senators, telling them how important this is. I don’t care, Democrat or Republican,” he added. “Telling them we have to get this done, telling them democracy is at stake.”