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Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will delay the vote on election reform legislation until Tuesday, missing his self-imposed deadline to take up the voting rights legislation by the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday.
The pair of voting rights bills are in limbo after Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia on Thursday doubled down on their opposition to rolling back the filibuster rule, despite personal pleas from Schumer and President Biden.
“Due to the circumstances regarding COVID and another potentially hazardous winter storm approaching the DC area this weekend, the Senate will adjourn tonight,” Schumer announced late Thursday.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York is seated before a Senate Rules and Administration Committee oversight hearing on the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, in Washington. (Elizabeth Frantz/Pool via AP)
Rather than keeping the Senate in all weekend to meet his Monday deadline, Schumer sent the lawmakers home, citing the snowy forecast on the East Coast and alluding to the COVID-19 case of Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, that put the Democrats’ perilous 50-seat majority down one person.
Schumer said the planned recess for next week will be delayed so lawmakers can return to Washington on Tuesday to take up the voting rights legislation.
“Make no mistake, the United States Senate will — for the first time this Congress —debate voting rights legislation beginning on Tuesday,” Schumer said.
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, called Schumer’s competence into question.
Schumer “can’t meet his own deadlines,” Ernst tweeted. “If you can’t even run the Senate, what makes you think you can run America’s elections?”
The missed deadline capped a tough day for Schumer and Democrats.
Biden made a personal visit to the Capitol Thursday to talk to Democrats on getting voting reforms passed, but before he arrived, Sinema took to the Senate floor and delivered the death blow by saying she won’t vote to get rid of the 60-vote threshold.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., delivers remarks on the Senate floor in support of the legislative filibuster, on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022.
“I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country,” Sinema said.
Manchin later issued another statement reiterating he will not get rid of the tradition of needing 60 votes to pass most legislation.
“I will not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” Manchin said.
When Sinema and Manchin didn’t give in, Biden invited them both to the White House Thursday night to discuss a pathway forward on the voting bills.
Still, it’s unclear, what, if any, path forward Schumer and Biden have on passing voting reforms that Republicans resoundingly oppose.