Sinema Imperils Voting Rights Push for the Sake of Archaic Filibuster Rule

Right-wing Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on Wednesday cast further doubt on Democrats’ nascent effort to pass voting rights legislation before the end of the year by reiterating her defense of the Senate’s legislative filibuster, an archaic rule that the GOP minority has used to stonewall bills aimed at protecting the franchise.

Democratic leaders signaled Wednesday afternoon that they intend to shift their focus to a last-ditch voting rights push ahead of the new year after talks over the party’s Build Back Better package faltered, as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) indicating he wants to gut the expanded child tax credit — a non-starter for progressives.

But just hours after the party’s rapidly changingSinema (D-Ariz.), who was a spokesperson for the party, began to develop a strategy. telling PoliticoThe senator opposes any minor changes to the filibuster rule.

“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good for our country to do so,” said Sinema spokesperson John LaBombard, who warned that newly passed bills could be “rescinded in a few years and replaced by a nationwide voter-ID law, nationwide restrictions on vote-by-mail, or other voting restrictions currently passing in some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.”

Voting rights advocates were quick to slam Sinema’s latest filibuster apologetics as ridiculous, arguing it shouldn’t take a supermajority in the U.S. Senate to thwart voter suppression legislation passed along party lines by state-level Republicans.

“This is so asinine,” repliedStephen Wolf, a staff author at Daily Kos Elections. “Republicans are already passing a wave of voting restrictions at the state level while the Supreme Court dismantles what’s left of the Voting Rights Act. Sinema doesn’t support the voting rights legislation. The filibuster just lets her pretend she does.”

Mother JonesAri Berman, journalist, agreed with this point.

Politico reported Wednesday that Senate Democrats are attempting to persuade Sinema and Manchin — another ardent defender of the filibuster — to support “installing the talking filibuster, which would force the minority to hold the floor and continuously put up at least 41 votes to block legislation, or creating a filibuster exception specific to the issue of elections and voting.”

The right-leaning senators still haven’t agreed to either change, despite both being voted in. earlier this weekTo bypass the filibuster and raise the U.S. Debt Ceiling, Manchin has previously suggestedHe would be open to the reinstitution of the talking filibuster. This would be a significant shift from current rules that allow senators mount a filibuster. via email.

All 50 senators from the Senate Democratic caucus must support filibuster reform.

“We’re carving out exceptions to the filibuster left and right depending on how important we all think an issue is. And yet we still don’t have an exception to pass voting rights? How out of touch are we?” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) lamented in a recent tweet.

Voting rights advocates as well as state lawmakers have warned for months that congressional Democrats are running out the time to stop a wave GOP – led redistricting. voter suppression — anti-democratic efforts that could prove decisiveIn the upcoming midterm election. To win control of the House in 2020, Republicans will need to flip five Democratic seats.

The Freedom to Vote ActThe compromise measure, co-sponsored by Sinema & Manchin, would ban partisan gerrymandering as well as institute campaign finance reforms and increase ballot access. The bill was filibustered by Republicans in October when Senate Democrats tried to pass it. If Democrats bring the legislation before the floor, they will likely do the same again.

Progressive advocacy groups state lawmakersI have asked the Senate Democratic leaders to postpone its holiday recess, and to do everything they can to pass strong voting right legislation, including eliminating filibuster altogether.

Emily Kirkland, executive director of the local advocacy group Progress Arizona, said in a statement late Wednesday that “in continuing to support the filibuster, Senator Sinema is single-handedly destroying any hope of progress on voting rights or democracy reform at the federal level for the foreseeable future.”

“History will not be kind to her if she continues on this path,” Kirkland added. “It is time for her to come to terms with her responsibility to the American people and end the filibuster — now.”