(CNN)Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Monday that the chamber will take a vote on whether to change the Senate’s legislative filibuster rules by Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 17.
In a new letter to his colleagues, Schumer said the Senate will “debate and consider changes to Senate rules” if Republicans block Democrats’ latest effort to advance a voting, elections overhaul bill in the coming days.
The vote has a very slim chance of succeeding as two Democratic senators — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have expressed strong opposition to changing the rules along party lines, a process known as the “nuclear option.”
“Over the coming weeks, the Senate will once again consider how to perfect this union and confront the historic challenges facing our democracy,” Schumer wrote in the letter. “We hope our Republican colleagues change course and work with us. But if they do not, the Senate will debate and consider changes to Senate rules on or before January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to protect the foundation of our democracy: free and fair elections.”
This comes as a key senators have continued their meetings to discuss potential Senate rules changes over the holiday recess, according to a Democratic aide. The aide said more meetings on the topic will also happen this week when lawmakers return.
In his letter, Schumer also spoke about the upcoming January 6 anniversary of the Capitol Hill insurrection. Schumer said that Senate Democrats will honor the officers who protected the US Capitol and also use this week to make another urgent appeal for passing voting rights legislation.
“Make no mistake about it: this week Senate Democrats will make clear that what happened on January 6th and the one-sided, partisan actions being taken by Republican-led state legislatures across the country are directly linked, and we can and must take strong action to stop this anti-democratic march,” Schumer wrote.
Schumer strongly reiterated his call for a Senate rules change to the legislative filibuster in the letter, saying, “The weaponization of rules once meant to short-circuit obstruction have been hijacked to guarantee obstruction.”
“We must adapt,” Schumer added. “The Senate must evolve, like it has many times before. The Senate was designed to evolve and has evolved many times in our history.”
CNN’s Manu Raju, Ted Barrett and Lauren Fox contributed to this report.