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On Thursday, Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) may have sunk any hope that the Biden administration had in passing the Democratic Party’s proposed voting and election security bills after she announced that she did not support making any changes to voting requirements needed for bills to pass in the United States senate.
Under Senate rules, legislation can only pass by a simple majority after debate has ended on a specific bill. However, in order for a certain bill to be presented for a vote, at least 60 senators need to vote in favor of ending the debate. This means that in order for the majority party to pass legislation with as much ease as possible, that party must have a “super majority” in the Senate of at least 60 senators.
Under the current makeup of 50-50 Congress, most Democratic proposals require the support of at least 10 GOP senators for any chance of passing. In effect, eliminating the legislative filibuster rules would enable the Democrats to pass legislation — such as The John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act — with a simple majority vote which the party has.
Democratic leaders have long promised to change the current filibuster rules, lowering the vote threshold to 51, in order to pass bills more easily. But to make that change, all 50 Democrats would need to endorse that course of action and vote in favor of it.
On Thursday morning, after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that combined the Democrats’ two main voting and election security bills, Sinema expressed her support for the proposals but stated that she could not support changing the filibuster.
“There’s no need for me to restate my longstanding support for the 60-vote threshold to pass legislation. There’s no need for me to restate its role in protecting our country from wild reversals of federal policy,” Sinema said according to Fox News. “This week’s harried discussions about Senate rules are but a poor substitute for what I believe could have and should have been a thoughtful public debate at any time over the past year.”
“But what is the legislative filibuster, other than a tool that requires new federal policy to be broadly supported by senators, representing the broader cross-section of Americans… Demands to eliminate this threshold from whichever party holds the fleeting majority amount to a group of people separated on two sides of a canyon, shouting that solution to their colleagues.”
“These bills help treat the symptoms of the disease, but they do not fully address the disease itself. And while I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division affecting our country,” Sinema added.
“Some have given up on the goal of erasing our divisions and uniting Americans. I have not,” the Arizona senator stated. “I’ve worked hard to demonstrate in my public service, the value of working with unlikely allies to get results.”
While her party colleagues have advocated getting rid of the filibuster in its current form, as pointed out by National Review’s David Harsanyi, Sinema’s position was widely held by the Democratic Party when President Trump was in office:
Sinema is holding the same position every Dem senator held a year and a half ago. https://t.co/2zpAOmLVjX
— David Harsanyi (@davidharsanyi) January 13, 2022