Senate Democrats are planning a test vote on their revamped voting rights legislation next week, creating a clash over the future of filibuster.
In a letter sent to his colleagues on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) said he planned to put the free voting law up to a vote on Wednesday. The legislation was drafted in part by Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), who opposed a previous and broader version of the bill.
Manchin has sought Republican support for the free vote law, but has had little success so far. Even Republican centrists like Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have shown little interest in the bill.
“I hope our fellow Republicans will join us in good faith, and as I said before, if they have any ideas on how to improve the legislation, we are ready to hear them, debate them, and if they are consistent with the goals of the legislation, include them in the bill, ”Schumer said in the letter Thursday.“ But Republicans must come to the table to have this conversation and at the very least vote to open debate.”
The Freedom to Vote Act would improve access to the vote, ban partisan gerrymandering and institute campaign finance reforms. It also includes a national standard for voter identification and protections against partisan electoral subversion.
The only way to pass the bill is for a democratic caucus unanimously to change the rules of filibuster. But two moderate Democratic senators, Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona), oppose the elimination or reform of filibuster. Democrats also discussed creating a special “exclusion” for voting rights from the filibuster rules, but that option would also require the support of the two moderates.
Schumer has repeatedly said that “everything is on the table” to pass a voting rights bill. Last month he warned that if Republicans “do not want to move forward, Democrats will have to move forward on their own.”
Perhaps next week’s vote will be more about the internal dynamics of the party than anything else. Democrats want to show senators like Manchin that the only option they have to move the bill forward is to change the Senate’s rules on filibuster. Manchin, at least, hasn’t shown any signs of flexing so far.