Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) responded to her critics on Monday with an opinion piece in The Washington Post, writing a strident defense of her support for maintaining the filibuster.
Sinema wrote that we “have more to lose than gain by ending the filibuster,” adding that the “best way to achieve durable, lasting results” is “[b]ipartisan cooperation.”
She added, “I understand bipartisanship seems outdated to many pundits. But the difficult work of collaboration is what we expect in Arizona. And I still believe it is the best way to identify realistic solutions — instead of escalating all-or-nothing political battles that result in no action, or in whipsawing federal policy reversals.”
She discussed accomplishments and laws that “a bipartisan approach has produced” since she was elected to Congress, including “laws curbing suicide among our troops and veterans, boosting American manufacturing, delivering for Native American communities, combating hate crimes, and protecting public lands.”
On the topic of getting rid of the filibuster, Sinema was blunt: “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.”
She added, “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 said that sometimes the filibuster is needed — “as it’s been used in previous Congresses” — in order “to protect against attacks on women’s health, clean air, and water, or aid to children and families in need.”
She added that her “support for retaining the 60-vote threshold is not based on the importance of any particular policy,” but rather “on what is best for our democracy. The filibuster compels moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings between opposing policy poles.”
Directly addressing critics who are aggressively pushing for the Senate rule to be abolished, she wrote:
To those who want to eliminate the legislative filibuster to pass the For the People Act (voting-rights legislation I support and have co-sponsored), I would ask: Would it be good for our country if we did, only to see that legislation rescinded a few years from now and replaced by a nationwide voter-ID law or restrictions on voting by mail in federal elections, over the objections of the minority?
To those who want to eliminate the legislative filibuster to expand health-care access or retirement benefits: Would it be good for our country if we did, only to later see that legislation replaced by legislation dividing Medicaid into block grants, slashing earned Social Security and Medicare benefits, or defunding women’s reproductive health services?
To those who want to eliminate the legislative filibuster to empower federal agencies to better protect the environment or strengthen education: Would it be good for our country if we did, only to see federal agencies and programs shrunk, starved of resources, or abolished a few years from now?
This question is less about the immediate results from any of these Democratic or Republican goals — it is the likelihood of repeated radical reversals in federal policy, cementing uncertainty, deepening divisions and further eroding Americans’ confidence in our government.
Sinema called out President Joe Biden, stating that he opposed eliminating the filibuster in the past. “I share the belief expressed in 2017 by 31 Senate Democrats opposing the elimination of the filibuster — a belief shared by President Biden. While I am confident that several senators in my party still share that belief, the Senate has not held a debate on the matter,” she wrote.
Sinema concluded in part by writing that “bipartisan policies that stand the test of time could help heal our country’s divisions and strengthen Americans’ confidence that our government is working for all of us and is worthy of all of us.”
Sinema and fellow moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (WV) have both publicly opposed getting rid of the filibuster, going against many members of their own party who wish to do away with the rule in order to bypass Republican opposition to their agenda.
Earlier this week, the progressive group, Just Democracy, started a mega, seven-figure ad campaign against the Arizona senator pressuring her to use her role in order to ram through the partisan election bill.
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