Senate Democrats who hoped to curb the filibuster in order to pass two partisan election overhaul bills were thwarted by two centrists in their own party in an expected outcome that highlighted persistent intraparty divisions.

Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona upheld their pledges to preserve the filibuster, voting against a change in the rules supported by all other Senate Democrats that would have required those who wanted to block the election legislation to engage in a nonstop floor speech.

The vote followed a daylong floor debate on the election legislation and the long-standing filibuster.

Democrats argued that despite their own past opposition to changing or ending the filibuster, an “adjustment” was necessary in order to ensure passage of the two election bills.


The legislation would roll back red-state voter integrity laws and expand federal oversight of election and voting district changes in some states.

Republicans blocked the election overhaul bill with the filibuster earlier Wednesday evening, prompting Democrats to embark on their attempt to change the rule.

Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who votes with the Democrats, accused the GOP of using the filibuster for “stone-cold obstruction” rather than to achieve bipartisan legislation on the voting measure.

“Unfortunately, part of this body just doesn't want to talk about the issue of voting rights,” King accused the GOP.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer characterized the resolution as “a modest one-time change” in the filibuster to pass the voting legislation. The resolution would allow lawmakers to speak as long as they want to delay passage.

“Days, as long as they can muster it,” the New York Democrat explained.

Republicans argued strenuously against the change, pointing out that their own party resisted curbing the filibuster when they controlled Congress and the White House.

"This is a plot to break the Senate," Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said.

The GOP rejected the claim that it would remain limited to the election overhaul bill and said it would open the door to curbing the filibuster any time in the future.


Republicans voted against the election overhaul bill unanimously, arguing that it would federalize elections, weaken voter integrity, and skew outcomes to favor Democratic candidates.

Democrats said the election bills would ensure equal access to the polls and would broaden voter participation.