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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) pledged to move forward with his party’s plans to change the chamber’s filibuster rules and pass expansive voting rights legislation, despite ongoing stonewalling by two members of his party, Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Krysten Sinema (Ariz.).
Schumer made the comments at a National Action Network event on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, saying he would continue to do “everything in my power to advance legislation that would strengthen our democracy.” He pointed directly at “two Democrats who don’t want to make that happen” before adding that the “fight is not over.”
“Far from it,” Schumer said, standing alongside Al Sharpton. “I’m going down to Washington, and we are going to debate voting rights. We are going to debate it, and, in the Senate, you know we need 60 votes to break a Republican filibuster ... but since we only have 50 Democrats in our razor-thin majority, the only path forward on this important issue is to change the rules to bypass the filibuster.”
On Tuesday, the Senate is expected to start formal debate on the bill, called the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, using a procedural loophole to begin the process without the usual 60 votes needed.
The push faces a difficult uphill battle with little hope for success, but top Democrats have decided to press on anyway, forcing Republicans to go public with their votes.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 17, 2022
Sinema surprised members of her party and President Joe Biden last week when she took to the Senate floor and told her fellow Democrats she would not support changing filibuster rules, saying she believed it would lead to “spiraling division.”
“Demands to eliminate [the 60-vote filibuster] threshold from whichever party holds the fleeting majority amount to a group of people separated on two sides of a canyon, shouting that solution to their colleagues,” Sinema said. “And that makes the rift wider and deeper.”
Manchin has also repeatedly said he doesn’t support changing filibuster rules, reiterating his position last week that he would not vote to do so.
Biden has pushed for the expansive new voting rights bill, which has already passed in the House along party lines. The bill would expand and protect voter access, reform the redistricting process, and protect against election subversion, among other provisions. It has been hailed by voting rights advocates, but Sinema and Manchin have said they don’t support changing Senate rules to push it through.
Republicans are effectively able to block any legislation as current filibuster rules doom any bill that doesn’t have at least 60 votes.
“We must never give up,” Schumer said Monday. “We are going to continue till we get full voting rights for all Americans. We will never give up until we stop these horrible, horrible laws from passing until we expand the right to vote, not contract it.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.