WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a letter to colleagues today, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowed to debate and consider changes to Senate rules by Jan. 17. The letter contextualizes the urgent need for voting rights legislation within the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In contrast to the anti-democratic wave sweeping the country, Schumer explains that the Democratic caucus has united behind pro-democracy legislation. However, Senate Republicans have continually blocked debate on the Freedom to Vote Act (a revised version of the For the People Act) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act on four different occasions in 2021.
Democrats hold a slim majority in the Senate, but have been unable to pass crucial legislation due to a 60-vote procedural rule. Schumer’s letter calls for his colleagues to make changes to the filibuster: “We must adapt. The Senate must evolve, like it has many times before.” However, they will need all 50 members of the Democratic caucus on board with any filibuster rule changes. Schumer’s vow to vote on rule changes on or before Jan. 17 coincides with Martin Luther King Jr. Day.