Senate Democrats are being pressured by outside progressive groups to reform the filibuster and pass voting rights legislation.
The Hill obtained a letter sent Monday by 60 organizations to Senate Democrats. The letter said that the December debt ceiling fight showed how the 60-vote legislative filibuster could be circumvented.
"Just as we needed to extend the debt limit to avoid economic calamity, we need to pass federal democracy and voting legislation to safeguard our democracy," said the letter, which was led by pro-reform group Fix Our Senate.
"And just as you had earlier been prepared to recognize that the U.S. economy is more important than the filibuster, we urge you to make a similar assessment when it comes to our democracy and our right to vote."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., last month struck a deal on a one-time exemption to the filibuster.
In their letter, the groups said that despite McConnell’s agreement, Republicans "remain committed to abusing the filibuster to obstruct democracy legislation, such as electoral college reforms, and voting rights legislation, such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act," The Hill reported.
The filibuster requires 60 votes to end debate and vote to pass legislation in the Senate.
Schumer is expected to bring up voting rights legislation this month and, if it's blocked by Republicans, trigger a vote on changing the legislative filibuster.
President Joe Biden late last month said he was in favor of changing the Senate filibuster rules to pass voting rights legislation.
Republicans view the voting rights legislation as an overreach by the federal government.
"If Senate Republicans continue to abuse the filibuster and prevent the body from considering this bill, the Senate will then consider changes to any rules which prevent us from debating and reaching final conclusion on important legislation," Schumer wrote in a letter to Senate Democrats last month, The Hill reported.
"I believe our constituents deserve to know which Senators choose to hide behind ill-conceived and abused rules and which Senators prefer to restore Senate floor procedures to better align with the Founders’ intentions. ... Members will be given the chance to debate on the Senate floor and cast a vote so that their choice on this matter is clear and available for everyone to see."
In early December, The Hill reported that Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a key holdout on fellow Democrats' aim to change the 60-vote legislative filibuster, was talking about small changes to Senate rules with Republicans.
Manchin's discussions with GOP colleagues come as Democrats try to win him over on their push to "restore the Senate" — including reforming the filibuster.
Democrats appear determined to pass several significant bills before the midterm elections in November. Besides voting rights, Biden’s massive social spending and climate bill likely will come up for a vote, Axios reported. Schumer plans to hold a vote on the massive Build Back Better deal this month as key holdout Manchin continues to be courted by the White House and Democrat leaders for his vote.
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