Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) on Wednesday defended the filibuster, saying it “protects the democracy of our nation,” despite complaints from her fellow Democrats who want to eliminate it in order to accomplish policy goals.
“As folks in Arizona know, I’ve long been a supporter of the filibuster because it is a tool that protects the democracy of our nation, rather than allowing our country to ricochet wildly every two to four years back and forth between policies,” Sinema told reporters on Wednesday.
Last week, Republicans filibustered to successfully block the creation of an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the first time the minority party has used their filibuster power in the Senate this year.
With 54 votes in favor of establishing the commission and 35 against, the vote fell short of the 60 votes needed to overcome the GOP filibuster. Eliminating the filibuster would allow Democrats to use a simple majority to pass major legislation. The Senate is currently split 50-50, but Democrats have Vice President Kamala Harris to cast the tie-breaking vote.
“I do not believe the additional extraneous commission that Democratic leaders want would uncover crucial new facts or promote healing,” Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said before the vote. “Frankly, I do not believe it is even designed to do that.”
Senate Democrats are now at odds over what to do about the filibuster, with some like Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) criticizing it as a tool used to “block the will of the majority of the American people.” Meanwhile, the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), has vocally opposed eliminating the filibuster.
“When you have a system that’s not working effectively, and I would think that most would agree that the Senate’s not a particularly well-oiled machine, right? The way to fix that is to change your behavior, not to eliminate the rules or change the rules, but to change your behavior,” Sinema said.
“So I’m going to continue to go to work every day, aggressively seeking bipartisanship in a cheerful and happy warrior way, as I always do, and showing that when we work together, we can get things done.”
Sinema’s remarks came during her visit of U.S. border facilities in Arizona, her home state, alongside Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX),
“I think I’m a daily example that bipartisanship is possible,” Sinema remarked, pointing to her previous work with Cornyn and other Republicans.
The Founding Founders created the Senate in a particular way in order to “protect the rights of the minority”
In March, Sinema joined Cornyn in calling on Biden to use his “full authorities” to address the migrant crisis at the southern border.
The two senators urged Biden to “take immediate action in two areas: ensuring there are sufficient resources and facilities at the border to manage the crisis and taking concrete steps to improve the asylum process.”