Why Schumer picked a filibuster fight he couldn't win

Republicans view the real leftward pressure on Schumer as coming from outside the chamber.

“He’s feeling incredible pressure from his progressive base. And also, his own political future may depend on his performance, too, to avoid a difficult primary,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a frequent sparring partner of Schumer’s.

Schumer is up for reelection but has yet to draw a primary opponent, despite the GOP’s hopes that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) challenges him. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said it’s “extremely cynical” to believe Schumer’s actions as leader stem from a primary threat that she said won’t materialize anyway: “I doubt it.”

There are other political considerations afoot. While Republicans are planning to hammer Democratic incumbents up for reelection this fall, the four Democrats facing the toughest Senate races all back Schumer’s rules change.