Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Keeping Up The Fight To Protect Democracy And Defend The Right To Vote For Every American

January 20, 2022

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding Senate Democrats’ intention to keep working to protect democracy and defending the right to vote for every American. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Last night was a reminder of a difficult but important reality of our great democracy: the march to freedom, through thick and thin, is never over. And we have to keep marching.

While last night’s vote was disappointing, it will not deter Senate Democrats from continuing our fight against voter suppression, dark money, partisan gerrymandering.

Democrats are proud of the fight we held last night. The strength, eloquence, enthusiasm, and overwhelming participation of my democratic colleagues during debate was exhilarating, and shows the passion we feel about this issue.

Facing an uphill battle from the start, we lost the vote. But to have not voted would have been a far greater loss: a loss for our Democratic Party – which for generations has stood for voting rights – a loss for the civil rights advocates who have sacrificed so much on this issue, and a loss for the American people and what this country stands for. On an issue this important, not doing everything we could would have been unacceptable.

Now the bromides of the beltway class hold we should not have held a vote on voting rights if the outcome was not certain. They are wrong.

Imagine telling Dr. King not to march from Selma to Montgomery because he could not be sure what obstacles awaited him and his fellow freedom fighters.

Imagine telling John Lewis he should have never crossed the Pettus Bridge, because it was unclear what perils awaited him on the other side.

Every member of this body who has ever invoked these great titans of freedom has an obligation – an obligation – to uphold their legacies not just with words but with actions. Senators were elected to vote.

The examples of Dr. King, of John Lewis inspire us, give us strength, and show us that sometimes the only right option is to move forward.

We need to remember what this is about: with the advent of Donald Trump and his many Big Lies, with the January 6th insurrection, with the vicious acts of voter suppression throughout the states, and with the greedy dark money interests who fuel the Republican Party these days, this is a fight for the soul of America. Nothing less.

So Democrats will not shy away from an uphill fight, we will continue to face them.

And I believe that the lessons of history are clear: when representatives have to take a stand, when they have to show to the American people where they are on the issues, the right side of history ultimately prevails.

We know history is on the side of voting rights, and we know that forcing leaders to take stands will ultimately move the ball forward.

Now, finally, I want to thank all my colleagues who came to the floor yesterday to speak valiantly in defense of voting rights, and for working assiduously for months on this vital issue: Senators Klobuchar and Merkley, Booker, Schatz, Senator Kaine, Senators King, Tester, Warnock, Ossoff, Durbin, Padilla, Leahy, and so many, so many more.

Their leadership, their expertise, and their dedication to protecting our democracy is inspiring, it gives our caucus strength, and it made such a difference.

Last night was unusual and exhilarating because we fought the good fight.

As former Majority Leader Alben Barkley said eighty years ago this November, facing a filibuster which successfully blocked anti-poll tax legislation: “I am glad I have made this fight. I have made it in behalf of what I believe to be the broad and true foundations of a true democracy.”

Senate Democrats’ fighting for voting rights is not over. We will keep fighting until voting rights are protected for every single American. And one day, hopefully sooner rather than later, we will succeed. 

###