Less than two months into the Democratic Senate majority, a major reality check is imminent.
In the House of Representatives, Democrats will pass multiple bills this month which died in the last Congress, with the Senate under Republican control.
The list includes an update on the Voting Rights Act, raising the minimum wage, D.C. statehood and new rules for policing.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has repeatedly said he’ll push them to a vote, even though Senate Democrats know they don’t have enough support to pass.
“[Then-Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell refused to put bills on the floor. I'm going to put bills on the floor,” Schumer told reporters Tuesday. “People are going to be forced to vote on them, on a whole lot of very important and serious issues.”
The vast majority of legislation in the Senate requires 60 votes to pass, or get blocked by the legislative filibuster.
That’s 10 more votes than Democrats have, and some fear bringing up doomed bills to the floor could backfire.
“In trying to put Republicans on the record, they might also put their own members in a tough spot,” said Rick VanMeter, a former communications director for Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and the founder of Prevail Communications.
“Before [McConnell] would bring bills to the floor, he would know they would pass, and he would know that they would pass because they had bipartisan support. That's the opposite of what Sen. Schumer is doing now as majority leader.”
To pass these bills without Republican support would require killing the 60-vote threshold, which can be done only if all 50 Democratic senators vote to remove it.
But a handful of moderate Democrats remain staunchly opposed, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
“Never!” Manchin shouted earlier this week, in response to a question from reporters about whether he had changed his opposition to removing the legislative hurdle. “Jesus Christ,” he continued, “what don't you understand about 'never'?”
Without removal of the filibuster, it could be a long time before many Democratic legislative priorities could become law.
“In the Senate, because of the 60-vote threshold, you really need bipartisanship to pass legislation,” VanMeter told Newsy.
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