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Politics & Policy

Will You Change Your Mind about the Filibuster, Senator Sinema? Will You? Will You? Will You? Will You?

Kyrsten Sinema speaks with supporters in Phoenix, Ariz., October 24, 2018. (Gage Skidmore)

Today, Garrett Haake, a Capitol Hill correspondent for NBC News, asked Arizona’s Senator Sinema a question — or more, the specifically, the question:

GH: Senator, what do you say to Democrats who are disappointed by your op-ed about the filibuster, and feeling like maybe they could still change your mind?

SINEMA: [chuckles]

What does she say? Only yesterday, the senator penned an op-ed in the Washington Post unequivocally staking out her position on the issue. I can’t think of any instance in the past 20 years of writing about politics in which elected officials took a stance — not only in an op-ed, but in interviews and statements — who was then hounded daily on whether they would reverse course. Sinema has never even intimated that she’s pondering a change of heart. Back in January, Sinema’s office released a statement declaring she was “against eliminating the filibuster, and she is not open to changing her mind.”

They’ll keep asking until they get the answer they want. Why won’t reporters ask Dick Durbin, who argued in 2018 that abolishing the filibuster “would be the end of the Senate,” if he is going to change his mind again? Ask him every day. Why not ask any one of the 31 senators who signed a letter defending the filibuster in 2018 if they are going to change their minds back? When Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski opposed Republican efforts to overturn Obamacare, they were treated as fearless mavericks. Not once, as far as I can tell, did any reporter ask them if they might be open to changing their minds. When Mitch McConnell rebuffed Donald Trump’s calls to eliminate the legislative filibuster, no one in the media asked the majority leader if he was going change his mind.

Why is this issue so special? The entire line of filibuster questioning — really, this badgering — is a proxy campaign waged for the Democratic Party. It’s not only a way to incessantly pester those who oppose blowing up Senate norms, it’s also meant to create the perception that filibuster “reform” is a vital issue and an inevitability. There’s no other way to interpret it.

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