Republicans block Dems’ election bills, setting up filibuster ‘nuclear option’ showdown

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Manchin, Sinema expected to tank ‘nuclear option’ vote

Senate Republicans Wednesday filibustered Democrat-backed election legislation, denying it the 60 votes it needed to advance and setting up a potential “nuclear option” gambit by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to use a party-line vote to lower the filibuster threshold for at least some legislation to a simple majority. 

All Republicans voted against a procedural vote on the legislation, which combines two major election bills, and all Democrats voted for it. The result was a 49-51 vote after Schumer changed his vote to the prevailing side to preserve his right to bring the vote up in the future. 

Now Schumer, D-N.Y., is expected initiate a “nuclear option” to try to get rid of the 60-vote threshold entirely so Democrats can pass their election legislation. 

“We will all confront a critical question: Shall members of this chamber do what is necessary to pass these bills?” Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “It is my hope that courage awakens within the heart of our Republican colleagues before the day is out. But if the Senate cannot protect the right to vote… under the existing rules, then the Senate rules must be reformed.”

Schumer added: “For those who feel that the filibuster is a good thing and helps bring us together, I would ask this question: Isn’t the protection of voting rights, the must fundamental wellspring of this democracy, more important?”

The filibuster vote is years in the making after intense pressure from Democrat activists, lawmakers and more recently, President Biden. 

But that effort is doomed to fail because Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., oppose altering the filibuster through a party-line vote. Schumer is expected to go ahead with the gambit anyway after promising this week to get all senators “on the record” on the issue.

By Tyler Olson

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