Schumer Shockingly Gives Up

Senate Democrats, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Who would have expected?

In yet another blow to the Democrats agenda, this time dealt at the hands of the most vocal proponent, voting on election legislation will be delayed. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) has announced he will be delaying the vote on election reform to Tuesday, January 18.

This contradicts previous statements the Senate Majority Leader made –– in which he emphasized that if Republicans continued to block voting bill legislation, the Senate would debate on the filibuster before Martin Luther King Jr Day (January 17). However, in an about-turn following Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-Ariz.) comments that she would not support changing the filibuster, Schumer has had to backtrack on his self-imposed deadline.

Late on Thursday (January 13) evening, Schumer announced that he was postponing the vote as the Senate adjourned because of “circumstances regarding COVID and another potentially hazardous winter storm approaching the DC area this weekend.”

Schumer’s decision to adjourn until Tuesday (January 18) –– because of Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) COVID case and DC’s storm forecast for Sunday –– rather than keep the Senate in over the weekend, also signals the Democrats are certain of their filibuster vote defeat.

These assertions are substantiated. The Senate Majority Leader’s announcement was void of any mention on the filibuster and, instead, focused on voting legislation, despite the plan before Thursday being to vote on changing the filibuster followed by pursuing sweeping changes to voting legislation.

Conspicuously, Schumer’s plans to adjourn the Senate took place hours after Senator Sinema revealed in a 20-minute long speech that she would not endorse changing the filibuster. Biden had also traveled to the Capitol on Thursday following Sinema’s speech to persuade her and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support the filibuster.

To have successfully changed the filibuster, Democrats would need 50 votes in addition to Vice President’s Harris tie-breaker. However, if they were to pursue the vote over the weekend, they would be down three, one vote due to COVID, and the other two to Democratic dissidents.