Sinema Rejects Filibuster Reform, Draws Ire from Fellow Democrats

Arizona senator says she won’t support filibuster changes, as her floor speech is condemned by voting rights activists.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Senator Kyrsten Sinema on Thursday publicly reaffirmed she would not support any change to the filibuster rules, evaporating her party’s hope of passing the most sweeping voting rights protections in a generation, The Guardian reports.
  • Taking the Senate floor around noon Thursday, Sinema—a first-term Democrat—said she would not support any changes to the filibuster, the Senate rule whose legislation requires 60 votes to advance.
  • “While I continue to support these [voting rights] bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country,” said Sinema.
WHAT ELSE SINEMA SAID:

“We must address the disease itself, the disease of division, to protect our democracy, and it cannot be achieved by one party alone,” Sen. Sinema said. “It cannot be achieved solely by the federal government. The response requires something greater and, yes, more difficult than what the Senate is discussing today.”

WHAT FELLOW DEMOCRATS ARE SAYING:

“Arizonans value leaders who can compromise and work across the aisle, but let me be clear: the filibuster is non-negotiable. Indivisibles, like myself, worked tooth-and-nail to get Sinema elected in 2018—we made calls, registered voters and knocked on doors in the 120F weather,” said Signa Oliver, an activist with the Arizona chapter of a grassroots group called ‘Indivisible.’

“We know the weight of this trifecta, and we will not sit idly by as Sinema lets our hard work and the prospect of a better country for all wither so she can be branded a bipartisan leader.”

BACKGROUND:
  • The Guardian noted how Sinema’s speech came at a time when Republican lawmakers from 19 states have already enacted 34 new laws promoting voting integrity.
  • Republicans have also passed “a slew” of similar bills in state legislatures on simple majority, party-line votes.
  • For months, Sinema and fellow Democrat Joe Manchin have staunchly defended the filibuster, which stands as the major hurdle to voting rights reform, the Guardian reports.
  • Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, praised Sinema’s speech as an act of “political courage” that could “save the Senate as an institution”, according to The Associated Press.