The Corner

Politics & Policy

Arizona Senator Mark Kelly Won’t Say If He Supports Keeping the Filibuster 

Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly speaks at an election campaign party in Tucson, Ariz., November 3, 2020. (Cheney Orr/Reuters)

This week, moderate Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona made firm public commitments to keep the Senate’s 60-vote threshold to pass most legislation, but some Senate Democrats have simply refused to say whether they support the filibuster.

One of those Democrats ducking the issue is Sinema’s Democratic colleague from Arizona, Mark Kelly, who won a special election in November to serve the final two years of the late Senator John McCain’s term. Earlier this week in the Capitol, Kelly was asked twice if he supports the filibuster, but he wouldn’t give a direct answer either time: 

National Review: Senator Kelly, do you have any thoughts on the filibuster? Do you share Senator Sinema’s position that you’re in favor of keeping it under all circumstances?

Senator Kelly: Well, I’ve been, since I got here at the beginning of December, you know, working really hard to come up with bipartisan solutions. We’ve got this bipartisan group—Democrats and Republicans—I was on the call with the White House the other day. I think any organization is going to function better when people can work together and we can work across party lines to get things done.

NR: Specifically, on keeping the 60-vote threshold, is that something that you would like to do? 

Kelly: Well, like I said, you know, bipartisanship is really important to me. I think it’s important to Arizonans too. We just want to make the place work.

Kelly’s platitudes and evasions on the filibuster stand in stark contrast to the straightforward comments of Arizona’s senior Democratic senator. “They will not get my vote on [nuking the filibuster],” Sinema told Politico in November 2019. “In fact, whether I’m in the majority or the minority I would always vote to reinstate the protections for the minority. . . . It is the right thing for the country.” Politico reported on Monday that Sinema still “opposes eliminating the filibuster and said she’s as firm as Manchin and is ‘not open to changing her mind,’ her office said.” Manchin told the Washington Post this week: “I will not vote to bust the filibuster under any condition, on anything that you can think of.”

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