With the U.S. Senate expected to hold a vote on changing the filibuster later this month, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., is calling out U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, on the matter.
At the start of this week, Schumer sent a letter to fellow Senate Democrats, announcing he intends to hold a vote later this month on reforming the filibuster. Insisting “common-sense solutions to defend our democracy have been repeatedly blocked by our Republican colleagues, who seem wholly uninterested in taking any meaningful steps to stem the rising tide of antidemocratic sentiment still being stoked by the former president,” Schumer pointed to times last year when “Republicans weaponized arcane Senate rules to prevent even a simple debate on how to protect our democracy.”
Schumer urged his colleagues back his efforts to reform the filibuster even as U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, is currently not on board, ensuring the effort has less than 50 votes.
“The Senate was designed to protect the political rights of the minority in the chamber, through the promise of debate and the opportunity to amend. But over the years, those rights have been warped and contorted to obstruct and embarrass the will of majority – something our Founders explicitly opposed. The constitution specified what measures demanded a supermajority –including impeachment or the ratification of treaties. But they explicitly rejected supermajority requirements for legislation, having learned firsthand of such a requirement’s defects under the Articles of Confederation. The weaponization of rules once meant to short-circuit obstruction have been hijacked to guarantee obstruction,” Schumer wrote. “We must ask ourselves: if the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, then how can we in good conscience allow for a situation in which the Republican Party can debate and pass voter suppression laws at the state level with only a simple majority vote, but not allow the United States Senate to do the same?
“We must adapt. The Senate must evolve, like it has many times before. The Senate was designed to evolve and has evolved many times in our history,” Schumer continued. “The fight for the ballot is as old as the Republic. Over the coming weeks, the Senate will once again consider how to perfect this union and confront the historic challenges facing our democracy. We hope our Republican colleagues change course and work with us. But if they do not, the Senate will debate and consider changes to Senate rules on or before January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to protect the foundation of our democracy: free and fair elections.”
Scott, who leads the National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC), fired back on Schumer on Tuesday, noting that he opposed filibuster reform in 2017.
“Chuck Schumer cares about one thing: preserving power for Chuck Schumer,” Scott said. “The proof can be found in his own contradictory self-serving statements. This week, Senator Schumer wrote a letter to his Democrat Caucus members on why they must fundamentally and irreversibly alter the rules of the United States Senate and destroy the rights of the minority to pass their unpopular and disastrous bills to federalize elections. This is an interesting take given Senator Schumer’s previous position on the filibuster. In 2017, then-Minority Leader Schumer urged Leader McConnell to, ’find a way to build a firewall around the legislative filibuster, which is the most important distinction between the Senate and the House.’ He went on to say, ‘Without the 60-vote threshold for legislation, the Senate becomes a majoritarian institution like the House, much more subject to the winds of short-term electoral change. No senator would like to see that happen, so let’s find a way to further protect the 60-vote rule for legislation.’ So the question we must ask ourselves is this: What changed, Chuck? The answer, of course, is he is now in the majority and wants to do as he pleases rather than respect the longstanding rights afforded to the minority party. Schumer is only interested in trashing the filibuster now because he fears he will lose power in the next election. That’s no way to lead.
“If the Democrats’ bill was good, it would pass. It’s not. The Democrats’ election takeover bill is an assault on American elections that will fuel fraud, waste billions of taxpayer dollars on funding political campaigns and attack ads and make it nearly impossible to oversee fair elections. Remember that fact the next time Chuck Schumer demands to change the same rules that he spent years fiercely defending when they protected his interests,” Scott added.
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