Schumer on filibuster carve-out for voting legislation: 'Everything is on the table'

Schumer praises the 'brave' Texas Democrats who fled their jobs

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Tuesday didn't rule out eliminating the legislative filibuster for voting rights legislation as Democrats are getting increasingly frustrated with state-level efforts to tighten voting rules. 

"Everything is on the table," Schumer told reporters at the Capitol about overcoming fierce GOP resistance to Democrats' legislation to set federal standards for voting access.

Schumer's comments came as a group of Texas state lawmakers fled the state for Washington in an effort to shut down a special session where Texas Republicans seek to pass new sweeping election laws that Democrats say will make it harder to vote. 

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The lawmakers met with Schumer and pleaded for the Senate to pass its voting and elections reform law, known as S.1, while acknowledging their exodus from the state Legislature is just a temporary move in need of a permanent federal solution. 

Schumer called the fleeing state lawmakers "brave" and "courageous" and blasted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for trying to pass new voting restrictions in the wake of former President Trump's 2020 election loss. 

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., meets with Democratic Texas lawmakers who fled the legislature to stop the passage of new voting laws. They are meeting at the Capitol on July 13, 2021.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., meets with Democratic Texas lawmakers who fled the legislature to stop the passage of new voting laws. They are meeting at the Capitol on July 13, 2021. (POOL)

"What the Republican governor is doing in Texas is just despicable, despicable," Schumer said. "It boils my blood to even watch what they're doing to these brave people … when there's not any serious evidence of voter fraud."

After welcoming the fleeing Texas Democrats to the Capitol, Schumer said: "These folks are going to be remembered on the right side of history. The governor and the Republican legislators will be remembered on the dark and wrong side of history."

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The U.S. House already passed the Democrats' sweeping election reform bill, but Senate Republicans in June filibustered the election and campaign finance reforms they panned as a partisan power grab.

The legislation needed 60 votes to advance in the Senate, but with Democrats holding only 50 seats, Republicans blocked the bill. Still, certain Democrats have remained steadfast in their opposition to eliminating the filibuster altogether, such as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. 

Frustrated with the lack of progress on voting bills, some prominent Democrats, like Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, are pushing for President Biden and those on the fence to support a narrow filibuster exception for constitutional issues, like voting rights. 

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Biden could "pick up the phone and tell [Sen.] Joe Manchin, ‘Hey, we should do a carve-out.’" Clyburn told Politico. "I don't care whether he does it in a microphone or on the telephone — just do it."

Schumer's response Tuesday indicated that he's open to the carve-out idea, but the biggest question remains is whether he has the 50 votes necessary to do so. 

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