Warning that the GOP’s recent obstruction and attacks on voting rights have ushered in a “perilous new moment for our democracy,” a coalition of more than 100 progressive advocacy groups demanded Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and his Democratic caucus immediately abolish the legislative filibuster.
“We have moved past hypotheticals,” the groups wrote in a letter to Schumer (D-N.Y.), referring to the Senate GOP’s decision last week to filibuster a proposed bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 Capitol insurrection.
“Democrats have to make the fundamental choice. Are they going to protect the filibuster or are they going to protect voting rights?”
—Eli Zupnick, Fix Our Senate
“In the face of Republicans’ inability and unwillingness to defend our democracy, it is clearer than ever that the filibuster needs to be eliminated,” the coalition continued. “We cannot allow the filibuster to stand in the way of progress or imperil the health of our democracy.”
Signed by Fix Our Senate, Common Cause, Greenpeace USA, and 100 other organizations, the letter comes just weeks before the Senate is expected to vote on the For the People Act, an ambitious voting rights expansion bill that stands no chance of passage as long as the 60-vote filibuster remains in place.
The letter uses Schumer’s own words to emphasize the urgency of approving the For the People Act, which—according to the Brennan Center for Justice—would negate virtually all of the hundreds of voter suppression bills that Republicans have introduced and passed at the state level in recent months.
“We are witnessing the ‘greatest contraction of voting rights since the end of Reconstruction and the beginning of Jim Crow,’ as Republican legislatures across America attack voting rights and play partisan games with their election laws,” the letter reads, quoting from a tweet Schumer posted last month. “Passing S.1, the For the People Act, is essential in light of these attacks on Americans’ fundamental voting and civil rights.”
Schumer has insisted that “failure is not an option” when it comes to passing the For the People Act and vowed that “everything is on the table” to push the popular bill through the Senate.
But the majority leader has yet to explicitly endorse abolishing the filibuster as two conservative members of the Senate Democratic caucus—Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona—continue to openly defend the 60-vote rule.
Eliminating or weakening the filibuster requires a simple-majority vote, meaning Senate Democrats would need to win over Manchin, Sinema, and less vocal filibuster supporters in the caucus. If the filibuster is left in place, Senate Democrats face the even more difficult task of convincing at least 10 of their Republican counterparts to support the For the People Act.
Eli Zupnick, a spokesperson for Fix Our Senate, told NBC News Thursday that the GOP’s assault on democracy “is truly a five-alarm fire.”
“Democrats have to make the fundamental choice,” said Zupnick. “Are they going to protect the filibuster or are they going to protect voting rights?”
Below is the progressive coalition’s full letter and the list of signatories: