- Sen. Kyrsten Sinema threw cold water on lowering the Senate filibuster threshold for voting rights.
- Her opposition makes it unlikely for Democrats to pass voting rights legislation along party lines.
- “I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division,” she said.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema threw cold water on lowering the Senate filibuster threshold to allow for the passage of voting rights legislation, significantly diminishing the chances of the legislation getting through the Senate.
The Arizona Democrat, who had long been opposed to such filibuster changes, took to the Senate floor on Thursday afternoon to restate her support of the 60-vote threshold and her opposition for making changes to the Senate rules on a party-line basis.
Sinema began her speech by decrying political divisiveness and the dozens of laws passed by state-level Republicans, including in Arizona, that restrict voting, saying they have “no place” in a democracy and that she supports “legislative responses” to counteract such laws, including the voting rights legislation approved by the House on Thursday morning.
“These bills help treat the symptoms of the disease, but they do not fully address the disease itself,” she said. “And while I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country. The debate over the Senate’s 60-vote threshold shines a light on our broader challenges.”
Sinema added: “There’s no need for me to restate my longstanding support for the 60-vote threshold to pass legislation. There’s no need for me to restate its role in protecting our country from wild reversals from federal policy. It’s a view I’ve held during my years in both the House and the US Senate, and it’s the view I continue to hold.”
Senate Democrats are mounting a renewed push to pass voting rights legislation, already a difficult feat in a Senate divided between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans. But Sinema and another key swing Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin, remain opposed to the changes to the Senate’s rules necessary to pass such legislation along party lines.
Sinema spoke before Senate Democrats were set to meet with President Joe Biden at a closed-door caucus meeting about passing voting rights legislation and changes to the filibuster, which Biden endorsed in a Tuesday speech in Atlanta.
The Arizona Democrat said that while she could support solutions to make the Senate more “productive” and “deliberative,” the week’s “harried discussions about Senate rules are but a poor substitute for what I believe could have been and should have been a thoughtful public debate at any time over the past year.”
Sinema further argued in her floor speech that American politics are fundamentally “cyclical,” and that while the majority party may be frustrated now, the filibuster rules will protect them when they’re back in the minority. She also said that making changes to the Senate filibuster rules along party lines only deepens America’s divisions and leads to greater partisan divides.
“What is the legislative filibuster other than a tool that requires new federal policy to be broadly supported by senators supported by a broader cross-section of Americans?”, she said. “A guardrail inevitably viewed as an obstacle by whoever holds the Senate majority, but which in reality ensures that millions of Americans represented by the minority party have a voice in the process.”