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Protesters are seen holding a banner reading KILL THE FILIBUSTER at a protest in New York City. (Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Over 150 Pro-Democracy Groups Demand Schumer Urgently Change Senate Rules to Pass Voting Rights

"The House of Representatives has already done its job. It is time for the Senate to do right by the American people, and improve the rules of the Senate so they can protect and strengthen our democracy."

Jenna McGuire

On the anniversary of the January 6, 2021 right-wing attack on the U.S. Capitol, over 150 national and local pro-democracy organizations released a letter demanding Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer change the Senate rules in order to reform the filibuster and pass voting rights legislation.

"We believe that changing the rules to bypass Republicans' continued obstruction is the only way to pass meaningful democracy legislation, and we urge you not to wait any longer."

"In the year since insurrectionists violently attacked the U.S. Capitol, we have witnessed ongoing and increasingly dangerous efforts to chip away at the foundation of our democracy," wrote the organizations, which include Stand Up America, Declaration for American Democracy, and Public Citizen.

Over the last year, Republican senators have used the antiquated filibuster rule—which requires a 60-vote super-majority to advance most legislation—to obstruct crucial voting and pro-democracy bills.

"The undersigned organizations write to urge Senate Democrats to pass the slate of democracy and voting rights legislation before Congress, by whatever legislative means are required," the letter continued.

Among the bills that have been blocked by Republicans—legislation the organizations are demanding Senate Democrats pass immediately—are the For the People Act, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, Protecting Our Democracy Act, and a bill establishing Washington, D.C. as a state.

Together the bills would protect voting rights, limit partisan gerrymandering and dark money influence, shield voters against discriminatory voting laws, restore checks and balances, and grant more than 700,000 residents of Washington, D.C. a vote in Congress.

The filibuster rule can be reformed or eradicated altogether with the support of all 50 Senate Democrats—plus a tie-breaking vote cast by Vice President Kamala Harris—in order to bypass Republicans' continued obstruction.

While the letter applauds Schumer's recent announcement that Democrats will debate and change the Senate rules on or before January 17 if Republicans continue to block multiple bills—the cosigners urge the New York Democrat to act right away.

"We believe that changing the rules to bypass Republicans' continued obstruction is the only way to pass meaningful democracy legislation, and we urge you not to wait any longer," the letter reads.

The letter also notes while Republican-led state legislatures are passing anti-voting rights bills across the country, including 34 voter suppression laws enacted in 19 states in 2021—and hundreds more being proposed—the "Senate has not been able to pass even a single piece of legislation" to safeguard our democracy against them.

"The House of Representatives has already done its job. It is time for the Senate to do right by the American people, and improve the rules of the Senate so they can protect and strengthen our democracy," the organizations said. "We implore our leaders in Congress to rise to the moment and honor their duty by urgently passing this slate of crucial democracy and voting rights legislation."


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