Schumer admits filibuster vote is 'uphill' climb amid ongoing 'private' talks with Manchin, Sinema

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday he’s been having “private” conversations with two holdout Democratic senators on carving out changes to the filibuster and admitted pushing through a rule change will be an “uphill climb.”

Schumer dodged a question Tuesday on what types of Senate rule changes he’s discussing, but he said the talks are ongoing with Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

“We’re discussing them in private with Sen. Manchin [and] Sen. Sinema,” Schumer told reporters at the Capitol. “And before we vote on them, whichever one we’ve arrived at — you’ll hear and see about it.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., speaks to the media after a Democratic policy luncheon, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Schumer said the Senate will take a vote by Jan. 17 — the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday — to change the rules in the Senate to allow for the passage of voting rights legislation with a simple majority. Both Manchin and Sinema support voting reforms, but they have been resistant to blowing up the Senate filibuster that requires at least 60 votes to pass most legislation. 

Democrats have made passing federal voting rights standards a top legislative priority in the wake of GOP-led states passing voting restrictions and safeguards after the 2020 presidential election. But Republicans, who oppose the voting rights legislation, are denying Democrats the 60 votes needed to move forward.

“It’s an uphill fight,” Schumer said of getting all 50 members of the Democratic caucus on board with the filibuster change. “I don’t want to give anybody the illusion that we’re there, but hopefully we can get 50 of us to come to an agreement.”

Manchin showed no signs of budging Tuesday and stressed the importance of protecting the Senate as an institution. 

“Anytime there’s a carve out, you eat the whole turkey,” Manchin said on his opposition to a voting rights exception to the filibuster.

White House press xecretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House Dec. 14, 2021 in Washington, D.C.
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In addition, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Biden supports the voting rights bill, but doesn’t know the exact timeline in the Senate.

“[Biden] absolutely feels that getting voting rights done is fundamental. It’s essential he is going to work in close lockstep with leader Schumer and others in Congress to get this done. But I’m not going to make a prediction at this point on the timeline. It’s obviously a first priority for them in the Senate.”

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