“In the end, it is going to come down to getting Republicans or restoring order,” Mr. Tester said in an interview, conceding that winning Republican votes appeared unlikely. “I’m keeping it open,” he said about the possibility of revising the rules.
Mr. King and other Democrats emphasized that enacting a rules change would not mean eliminating the filibuster on legislation entirely and that a more nuanced approach such as requiring an old-time “talking” filibuster, where foes have to take the floor to battle legislation, could be the end result.
“A number of us have different options, ways we can get this done,” Mr. Kaine said. “The leader has a real sense of urgency about it, which I share, and he thinks we need to do something by Thanksgiving.”
Any move would be certain to be met with extreme resistance from Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, and his fellow Republicans. Mr. McConnell assailed the voting legislation again on Wednesday as a power grab by Democrats, and vowed to keep employing the filibuster to hinder them from enacting policies he and his Republican troops oppose.
“The same rotten core is all still there,” Mr. McConnell said of the new legislation. “As long as Senate Democrats remain fixated on their radical agenda, this body will continue to do the job the framers assigned it and stop terrible ideas in their tracks.”
To Democrats, it is the Republicans who are radical and driving the Senate toward dysfunction never envisioned by the nation’s founders. Even as they rely on the filibuster to thwart voting protections in Washington, Republicans in states around the country are using baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 election to justify new voting restrictions that could impede the ability of minorities and others to cast ballots in the future.
The Democratic legislation seeks to counter those efforts. The bill would set federal standards for early and mail-in voting and make Election Day a national holiday, among other provisions. It would also mandate that voters provide some form of identification before casting a ballot, a requirement that many Democrats had previously resisted, although it would be far less restrictive than similar measures imposed by Republicans.
After Wednesday’s vote, Democrats essentially abandoned the idea of winning over Republicans. Now they have to persuade a few of their own members that the need to adopt the voting legislation outweighs allegiance to Senate procedure.