Senate fails to change filibuster rules after GOP blocks voting rights bill

By Maureen Chowdhury, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 12:27 AM ET, Thu January 20, 2022
23 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
11:37 p.m. ET, January 19, 2022

Martin Luther King Jr.'s son: Manchin and Sinema "have let down the United States of America"

Martin Luther King III, speaks during a press conference with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at Union Station in Washington, DC on Monday.
Martin Luther King III, speaks during a press conference with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at Union Station in Washington, DC on Monday. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

In a statement tonight, Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., slammed moderate Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, saying "they have let down the United States of America. They were given countless opportunities to protect our most sacred franchise, but in the end, they sided with a Jim Crow relic over the voting rights of Black and Brown communities.”

"They ignored the call of millions of Americans, West Virginians, and Arizonans who know that restoring the Voting Rights Act is an imperative for the health of our democracy. Like I said from the Frederick Douglass Bridge on the holiday to honor my father: no bridge will be strong enough to hold the weight of this failure," he said in the statement.

He continued: "Despite this setback, we are going to keep fighting for voting rights legislation. This fight marks a new chapter in the King legacy and we will not accept failure. We have set extraordinary groundwork for change and the country will not let this fight end. Ending the filibuster is part of the national conversation in a way it’s never been before — people now know the filibuster is not etched in the Constitution, but rather a tool of suppression, and the voting rights secured by my father are under attack.”

11:22 p.m. ET, January 19, 2022

Schumer on voting rights: "We will not quit"

(Senate TV)
(Senate TV)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed that Democrats would continue their fight against voter suppression despite suffering a major defeat today in their efforts pass voting rights legislation today.

"We will not quit," Schumer said on the Senate floor.

"While tonight's vote was disappointing, it will not deter Senate Democrats from continuing our fight against voter suppression, dark money and partisan gerrymandering. With no support from Senate Republicans, many of whom deny the very existence of voter suppression. We faced an uphill battle. But because of this fight and the fact that each senator had to show where they stand, we are closer to achieving our goal of passing vital voter protection legislation. We take inspiration from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He kept fighting for voting rights through every obstacle and we will do the same. We will not quit," Schumer said.

He continued: "Now that every senator has gone on record, the American people have seen who's on the side of protecting voting rights and it will only strengthen our resolve as we work to ensure our democracy does not backslide. This vote is another step forward in the long march for universal voting rights. The Democratic caucus pledges to keep working until voting rights are protected for every American."

11:13 p.m. ET, January 19, 2022

Sanders says Manchin and Sinema have "undermined" Biden and can expect 2024 primaries

From CNN's Ted Barrett and Manu Raju

Sen. Bernie Sanders called out his fellow Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, over their opposition to changing filibuster rules in order to pass voting rights legislation.

“These are people who I think have undermined the President of the United States" and they “can expect to find primary challenges” in 2024, Sanders said.

“They have forced us to have five months of discussions that have gone absolutely nowhere,” he said.

11:07 p.m. ET, January 19, 2022

Harris on failed Senate vote on filibuster and voting rights: "The American people will not forget"

From CNN Brian Rokus

Vice President Kamala Harris released a statement on tonight’s Senate vote, saying about the freedom to vote: “today, Senators voted to preserve an arcane Senate procedure rather than secure that fundamental freedom. The American people will not forget this moment. Neither will history.” 

She said the administration will continue to "fight to pass federal legislation to secure the right to vote."

"We will not stop fighting against the anti-voter legislation that Republican legislatures continue to push at the state level—and to champion and support state and local elected officials who work to enact pro-voter legislation. We will work to ensure Americans everywhere can register to vote, cast their vote, and have their vote counted in a free and fair election," she said in the statement.

11:08 p.m. ET, January 19, 2022

Romney praises Sinema and Manchin for their "political courage" tonight

From CNN's Ali Zaslav

Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, said that after the vote concluded, he told his colleague Sen. Kyrsten Sinema: "I respect your strength and character. Congratulations"

"Each case was an act of an extraordinary political courage, the likes of which I have not seen in my political career," the senator said of moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Sinema's votes.

11:48 p.m. ET, January 19, 2022

Biden: "Profoundly disappointed that the United States Senate has failed to stand up for our democracy"

From CNN Brian Rokus

President Biden issued a statement on tonight’s Senate vote, saying, “I am profoundly disappointed that the United States Senate has failed to stand up for our democracy.” 

“As dangerous new Republican laws plainly designed to suppress and subvert voting rights proliferate in states across the country, we will explore every measure and use every tool at our disposal to stand up for democracy,” Biden also says.

Biden vowed to continue to fight for voting rights.

"My Administration will never stop fighting to ensure that the heart and soul of our democracy — the right to vote — is protected at all costs. We will continue to work with allies to advance necessary legislation to protect the right to vote. And to push for Senate procedural changes that will protect the fundamental right to vote," he said in the statement.

11:10 p.m. ET, January 19, 2022

Sinema reiterates opposition to eliminating filibuster, saying it would "deepen our divisions"

Moderate Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema reiterated in a statement why she opposed the Senate rules change that would eliminate the filibuster.

"I also maintained my longstanding opposition to separate actions that would deepen our divisions and risk repeated radical reversals in federal policy, cementing uncertainty and further eroding confidence in our government," Sinema said in a statement after Senate Democrats failed in their effort to use the “nuclear option” to change filibuster rules.

The Arizona senator along with Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, were the only Democrats to vote the rules change.

"Tonight's votes must not be the end of our work to protect our democracy. That goal requires all Americans everywhere to unite around sustained strategies in support of free, fair, and open elections in which every vote is fairly counted. These challenges cannot be solved by one party or Washington alone."

11:10 p.m. ET, January 19, 2022

Democrats fail to use "nuclear option" to change Senate filibuster rules to pass voting legislation

From CNN's Clare Foran, Ted Barrett and Ali Zaslav

Senate Democrats failed in their effort to use the “nuclear option” to change filibuster rules to allow for a “talking filibuster” on the voting legislation that Republicans blocked earlier this evening. 

The vote was 52-48 with moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema voting with Republicans. After the vote failed, there was a loud round of applause from Republicans. 

The proposed rules change would force lawmakers who want to filibuster the bill to come to the Senate floor and speak in opposition.

Once those speeches come to an end, the Senate would be able to hold a simple majority vote for final passage. The move would effectively eliminate the 60-vote threshold set by the filibuster.

It had been expected to fail due to opposition from Manchin and Sinema.

11:16 p.m. ET, January 19, 2022

Senate voting now on "nuclear option" for rules change on filibuster

From CNN's Clare Foran, Ted Barrett and Ali Zaslav

(Senate TV)
(Senate TV)

The Senate is now holding a vote to attempt to change filibuster rules to allow for a “talking filibuster” on the voting legislation that Republicans just blocked. 

The proposed rules change would force lawmakers who want to filibuster the bill to come to the Senate floor and speak in opposition. Once those speeches come to an end, the Senate would be able to hold a simple majority vote for final passage. The move would effectively eliminate the 60-vote threshold set by the filibuster.  

The vote is expected to fail due to opposition from moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.