Hassan backs nixing filibuster on voting rights

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  • Maggie Hassan
    United States senator from New Hampshire
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.)
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.)

Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), who is up for reelection in 2022, announced on Thursday that she supports getting rid of the 60-vote legislative filibuster for voting rights legislation.

Hassan is the latest in a growing number of Senate Democrats who back changes to the Senate rules as voting rights legislation has been stuck in limbo for months - though Democrats don't yet have the 50 votes needed in order to reform the filibuster.

"A set of arcane Senate rules are being used as an excuse not to act. This cannot stand. We must change the rules to allow a simple majority of this body ... to pass laws that will protect the right to vote and protect American democracy," Hassan said during a speech from the Senate floor on Thursday night.

Democrats appear poised to wrap up work for the year without taking action on voting rights legislation.

Republicans have blocked several election reform and voting bills, which have failed to get the 60 votes needed for most legislation to advance in the Senate.

Democrats are having discussions about how to potentially change the rules, with a range of options on the table, including exempting voting rights from the 60-vote filibuster, implementing a talking filibuster or requiring 41 "no" votes rather than 60 "yes" votes, in an effort to put more pressure on senators blocking legislation.

Democrats haven't yet landed on a proposal that unifies the caucus, and Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have opposed changing the filibuster. Though Manchin has been engaged in negotiations, he has said he thinks rules changes should be bipartisan and has previously opposed the "nuclear option," with which Democrats would try to force through changes on their own.

A spokesperson for Sinema also said this week that she remains supportive of the 60-vote legislative filibuster.

Even amid such setbacks, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowed that Democrats would plow forward with conversations on rules changes with an eye at getting voting rights legislation across the finish line.

"Senate Democrats have spent the past few weeks engaged in a separate discussion on addressing another critical and urgent priority - protecting the right to vote and safeguarding our elections," Schumer said.

"Yesterday, I joined with a number of my colleagues in detailed conversations about how the Senate will get voting rights done in time for the 2022 elections," Schumer added.

Republicans have opposed the voting bills, arguing that they would federalize elections. But Democrats view them as urgent and a top priority as states debate new election legislation.

"The Constitution gives Congress the power to oversee federal elections. That means that Congress has the authority to protect democracy and the right to vote. And we have a constitutional and moral obligation to do so," Hassan added on Thursday.

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