Democrats' filibuster agenda on hold as Hawaii senator tests positive for COVID

Senate Democrats will not have the necessary 50 votes for the near future.
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Schumer
Schumer
(Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) tested positive for COVID earlier this week, bringing the number of voting Senate Democrats for the near future down to 49 as filibuster reform and voting rights legislation is slated for the floor within the next few days.

Democrats merged the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act into previously passed NASA legislation. The House voted along party lines to pass the bill Thursday. The Senate is expected to vote on the legislation this weekend or earlier. The body is not in session on Monday and next week is a state work period.

"Thankfully, I am fully vaccinated, boosted, and asymptomatic," Schatz wrote in a press release Thursday. He is isolating at home and expects "to be back soon."

Senate Democrats do not have the necessary 50 votes without Schatz to eliminate the filibuster and pass their radical voting agenda. The Democrat's changes were already likely to fail after Sen. Kristen Sinema (D-Ariz.) reiterated her support for the filibuster Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stated in a letter earlier this month that if Republicans block voting rights legislation he will move to change filibuster rules by Jan. 17, when Schatz would still be out with COVID.

SenatorĀ Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) shared his concerns on Twitter about the possibility of Schatz coming to work despite being sick. "Democrats dare not let a tested COVID positive senator come to the senate floor to vote & endanger those around them & give them a privilege the senate has never allotted to any other senator during the pandemic," Grassley wrote. "That would b hypocritical & not follow the science."

Grassley added that the Democrats should delay floor action until Jan. 24 "or never since it's going to fail anyway."