During a Thursday speech, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona), a conservative Democrat, stated that she would not support the amendment of the filibuster rule. This could potentially endanger any chance of voting rights legislation ever being passed in the foreseeable.
On Thursday Sinema claimed that the filibuster debate was “harried,” adding that she believed that there “could have and should have been a thoughtful public debate at any time over the past year.” Her comments ignore several months of discussion (and weeks of negotiations) on the subject, both inside and outside of the Senate.
Sinema is also available claimed that she isn’t opposed to a “legislative response”to voting restrictions that have been enacted across the country in GOP-led states. But she also can’t “support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division,” she said.
After Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader (D-New York), made her remarks, she spoke briefly. Announced a plan to start the process of addressing filibuster. Schumer promised a vote to change the filibuster by next week, though he didn’t go into detail about specific changes he wants to pursue.
“Every senator will be faced with a choice of whether or not to pass the legislation to protect our democracy,” Schumer said in a statement announcing the plan.
Social media commentators have stated that Sinema is responsible for failing to pass voting rights legislation.
“Sinema is speaking on the Senate floor and, get this, criticizing GOP state legislatures for restricting voting rights,” MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan said. “But… what is she going to do about it at the federal level? Many of us wait with baited breath.”
“Sinema is effectively asking the authors of Jim Crow and vote-rigging to give their permission for her to stop it,” said Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post opinion columnist. “This is worse than incoherent or cowardice. It’s a moral disgrace.”
Rubin continued by speculating whether Sinema would “ask the segregationists for permission to vote for [the 1964] Civil Rights Act,” were she voting on the bill decades ago.
That law was passed at a time when a “talking filibuster” rule was in place, rather than the current form of the filibuster, which doesn’t require lawmakers to speak nonstop. Democrats are currently looking at reform options that would allow them to enact the talking filibuster.
Some observers also rejected Sinema’s insistence that she was protecting the filibuster out of respect for bipartisanship.
“Sinema is saying that the filibuster simply ensures that lawmakers bring legislation that is broadly supported by the American people,” said HuffPost Washington Bureau Chief Amanda Terkel. “That’s just not true. There are many laws that have broad public support. But it still doesn’t go anywhere.”
“Ultimately, Sinema’s speech isn’t an exercise of bipartisanship. It’s one that serves to protect power that Democrats and Republicans alike enjoy,” wrote Jalil SmithA senior correspondent for Vox. “Proclamations of support for voting rights from any Senator unwilling to eliminate the filibuster are just scenery for the gullible.”