Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., vowed his party will force a vote to change the Senate rules by Jan. 17 if Republicans continue to obstruct voting-rights legislation.

"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," Schumer wrote in a letter to the Senate Democratic Caucus.

Republicans have been using the 60-vote filibuster to block key pieces of Democratic legislation over the past year, prompting Schumer to change the rules in order to fulfill key campaign promises. Voting rights legislation has been a key part of Congressional Democrats’ agenda as they look to respond against recent voter ID laws that have been passed in states like Georgia.

Schumer has said that the failed Jan. 6 insurrection was an effort to delegitimize the nation’s election process, and the Senate must advance systemic reforms to “repair our republic.”

Democrats are discussing a range of ideas on filibuster reform that include the talking filibuster that would let bills pass with a majority vote. However, every Democrat in the Senate would have to agree to amend the filibuster, which has been opposed by Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

“How can we in good conscience allow for a situation in which the Republican Party can debate and pass voter suppression laws at the state level with only a simple majority vote, but not allow the United States Senate to do the same?” Schumer wrote. “We must adapt. The Senate must evolve like it has many times before.”

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, blasted Schumer’s decision to change the filibuster, calling the move a “partisan power grab,” adding Schumer’s “disastrous plan must be stopped.”

Democrats argue passing The Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act would ensure early voting, protect mail-in voting and make Election Day a national holiday are necessary measures for election reform. The U.S. Conference of Mayors released a letter signed by more than 140 mayors of both parties urging the Senate to pass both election bills.

"Just as we needed to extend the debt limit to avoid economic calamity, we need to pass federal democracy and voting legislation to safeguard our democracy," the letter read.

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