Amid congressional Democrats’ pivot to federal voting legislation, placing President Biden’s Build Back Better plan on the back burner for now, moderate Democratic senator Kyrsten Sinema has doubled down on her defense of the filibuster, indicating that she won’t vote to kill the mechanism to help her party pass the measure.
With the negotiated $1.7 trillion climate and social-spending package paralyzed in Congress, the Democrats have moved on to the voting bill with urgency, hoping to enact it before the end of the year and to destroy the 60-vote requirement in the process. Standing firm in her long-held opposition, Sinema so far still refuses to blow up that Senate procedure, encouraging her colleagues to find other innovative ways to advance the legislation instead.
The Arizona senator “continues to support the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, to protect the country from repeated radical reversals in federal policy which would cement uncertainty, deepen divisions, and further erode Americans’ confidence in our government,” Sinema’s spokesman John LaBombard told Politico.
Repeatedly, Sinema has vowed to protect the filibuster, pointing out the agreement of many Senate Democrats in the past. She has argued that the institution is not a blockade to legislative progress but rather an important mechanism to negotiate better policy, regardless of which party is in the majority in the chamber.
“It’s no secret that I oppose eliminating the Senate’s 60-vote threshold. I held the same view during three terms in the U.S. House, and said the same after I was elected to the Senate in 2018. If anyone expected me to reverse my position because my party now controls the Senate, they should know that my approach to legislating in Congress is the same whether in the minority or majority,” she wrote in the Washington Post in June.
“Senator Sinema has asked those who want to weaken or eliminate the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation which she supports if it would be good for our country to do so,” LaBombard told Politico. He said that there’s a risk that the measure gets “rescinded in a few years and replaced by a nationwide voter-ID law, nationwide restrictions on vote-by-mail, or other voting restrictions currently passing in some states extended nationwide.”