Politics & Policy

Sinema Defends Filibuster as a ‘Tool that Protects the Democracy of Our Nation’

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) on Capitol Hill, July 16, 2019. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) again defended the filibuster during a joint press conference with Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) on Wednesday.

“Some people are saying that you have a choice between the filibuster and democracy,” a reporter said during the press conference.

The filibuster “is a tool that protects the democracy of our nation,” Sinema countered, “rather than allowing our country to ricochet wildly every two to four years back and forth between policies.”

Sinema and fellow moderate Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) have come under pressure from progressives to reject the Senate filibuster in order to pass more legislation via a simple majority in the Senate. Democrats currently hold 50 Senate seats with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote.

“To those who say that we must make a choice between the filibuster and ‘X,’ I say, this is a false choice,” Sinema said. “The reality is that when you have a system that is not working effectively . . . the way to fix that is to fix your behavior, not to eliminate the rules or change the rules, but to change the behavior.”

Sinema’s comments came the same day that the Senate parliamentarian ruled that Democrats can use budget-reconciliation rules just one more time this year. Budget-reconciliation rules allow senators to pass certain bills via a simple majority instead of the 60-vote threshold required to avoid a filibuster.

President Biden said on Tuesday that his administration’s legislative agenda was held up because he “only has a majority of effectively four votes in the house and a tie in the Senate with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends.” Those members of the Senate appeared to be Sinema and Manchin.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki attempted to walk back those remarks during a Wednesday press briefing.

“What the president was simply conveying was that his threshold, his litmus test is not to see eye-to-eye on every single detail of every issue and he doesn’t with Senator Sinema and Senator Manchin,” Psaki said.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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