Schumer: Eliminating Filibuster ‘Will Be on the Table’ if Republicans Keep Voting No

March 15, 2021 Updated: March 15, 2021

Changing or eliminating the filibuster is possible if Republicans continue to oppose Democrats’ legislative priorities, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on March 14.

The filibuster is a 60-vote threshold in the upper chamber to end debate on a proposal and bring it to a vote. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on March 10 called it “the essence of the Senate.”

“It’s the only legislative body in the world where a majority is not enough for most things on the legislative side. It should not be changed.”

McConnell also noted that Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have indicated that they don’t want the filibuster axed, “and we’re counting on them to stand up for the institution.”

Asked about the remarks during an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show,” Schumer said that America needs “big, bold change.”

“The kind of change we began to do in the American Rescue Plan has to continue in the many ways that it has and in many other ways—infrastructure, democracy, things that we have talked about a little bit here, child poverty. We would like to work with our Republican colleagues to bring that big bold change, no question about it. That’s our preference, and we will try,” he said.

“But if they vote no on everything in terms of the kinds of change that America needs, then our caucus will have to get together and figure out how to get it done. Everything will be on the table and failure is not an option. We cannot turn away from the big, bold change that is needed.”

Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) speaks to a reporter outside the Senate Chamber in Washington on Feb. 13, 2021. (Greg Nash/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Manchin earlier this month said the Senate is designed to make sure the minority party has input as he continued opposing eliminating the 60-vote threshold, but suggested a willingness to shift to a so-called talking filibuster.

“Now, if you want to make it a little bit more painful, make him stand there and talk, I’m willing to look at any way we can,” he said. “But I’m not willing to take away the involvement of the minority. I’ve been in the minority. I’ve been in the majority. And I can tell you the respect I have on both sides when I’ve been there should be ‘I’ve got something to say, listen to me,’ and I want that to happen.”

While Schumer accused Republicans of failing to work with Democrats, Republican lawmakers have said the same thing about him and Democrats during the early months of the Biden administration, especially in light of how Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package without a single Republican vote.

“I look forward to continuing to work with this administration, and I just hope that Sen. Schumer does not continue to be an obstacle to bipartisanship,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told reporters on Capitol Hill last week. “That’s what the people of this country want to see.”

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