Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday laid out a sweeping agenda for when the upper chamber returns from recess next month, and he is not ruling out an effort to scrap the filibuster in order to bypass the need for Republican support on bills they largely oppose.
In a letter to Senate Democrats, Schumer listed civil and voting rights as one of the Senate’s three post-recess priorities and said the chamber will first consider Sen. Mazie Hirono’s (D-Hawaii) anti-Asian hate crimes bill, as well as Department of Justice nominees.
Schumer also said the Senate will consider two bills passed by the House earlier this month expanding gun background checks to unlicensed dealers and closing a loophole allowing gun sales to go forward if a background check is not completed in three days.
Finally, Schumer said, Senate Democrats will attempt to roll back two Trump-era policies – one restricting methane emission regulation and another empowering employers in workplace discrimination suits – using the Congressional Review Act, which allows them to bypass Republicans if they begin their effort before April 4.
10. That’s the number of Republicans that would have to cross the aisle for Senate Democrats to pass most of their legislation. Democrats are leaving open the possibility of using budget reconciliation to pass Biden’s infrastructure plan – like they did with his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which passed without any GOP votes – but they can only use that process two more times before 2023, and only on certain bills.
“Everything, everything is on the table,” Schumer said at a press conference when asked if he will try to nix the filibuster. Democrats have been mulling reforming the filibuster to make it harder to use, but moderates like Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) have ruled out scrapping it altogether.
What To Watch For
Before they even begin to try to coax Republican support, Democrats will have to get Manchin on side for a number of bills. He has said he opposes the House-passed gun background check bill, and on Wednesday he suggested any sweeping election reform bill passed by the Senate must be bipartisan for him to support it.