Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer walks in the U.S. Capitol Building

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) talks with reporters outside the Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 12, 2022 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

WATCH LIVE: Senate Debates Voting Rights

The floor debate moves the upper chamber closer to a showdown over the 60-vote filibuster rule.

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday kicked off debate on voting rights legislation and moved closer to a potential floor battle over the filibuster rule, which Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have vowed to uphold despite the dire implications for U.S. democracy.

Watch the Senate debate voting rights live:

As early as Wednesday, Democrats are expected to pursue a motion to end debate and move to a final vote on the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. If, as anticipated, Republicans unanimously oppose the motion, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has vowed to try to reform the rules of the Senate.

But with any filibuster changes likely to fail in the face of Manchin and Sinema's opposition, Democrats are also reportedly exploring an alternative strategy that would let them work around a GOP filibuster and pass the voting rights bill without weakening the 60-vote threshold.

Senate Democrats are planning to hold a private caucus meeting at 5 pm ET to chart their next steps.

"Every senator has an opportunity this week to be on the right side of history. Including Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema," the advocacy group Stand Up America tweeted Tuesday. "Will they stand up for our democracy? Or will they defend the Jim Crow filibuster? Our vote is on the line."

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