Senator Kirsten Sinema (D-Arizona) walked into the Senate Thursday to tell her fellow Democrats that she would not support changing the House’s filibuster rules to pass the voting rights bill.
“I don’t need to repeat my position,” said Cinema, explaining that she opposes changing the piracy rules, which require a supermajority of 60 votes to pass most laws, as it would deepen the “spiral split” in the country.
“Demands to remove [the 60-vote filibuster] The threshold, from whichever party the fleeting majority is, comes down to a group of people, divided on both sides of the canyon, who shout this decision to their colleagues, ”Sinema said. “And that makes the crack wider and deeper.”
The dramatic speech came as President Joe Biden headed to the Senate to speak with members of the Democratic Party caucus about the urgency of changing the anti-piracy rules to pass the voting rights bill with a simple majority. The speech dampens Democrats’ hopes of passing legislation to combat a wave of voter suppression bills passed by Republicans influenced by former President Donald Trump’s electoral fraud in the states they control.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) plans to debate over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend on a new voting rights bill passed right on the floor of the Senate on Thursday morning in a partisan vote in the House of Representatives. This will lead to a final scramble to change the filibuster rules to pass the voting rights bill with the 50 votes that the Democrats have plus the casting vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.
Cinema said she supports the voting rights bill Schumer plans to submit to the Senate and opposes voter suppression laws passed by Republican senators. But she wouldn’t take action to pass them if it meant changing the rules of the Senate.
“Almost every party-line response to the challenges we face in this body, every partisan action taken to defend a cherished value has led us to a bigger split, not a smaller one,” Cinema said.
Republicans, who almost universally oppose any voting rights legislation, immediately jumped to praise Cinema’s speech.
Sinema “saved the Senate as an institution,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said.
“Whether you agree with her or not, the fact that she is willing to stand her ground despite the extreme pressure being placed on her is a strong indication of who she is,” said Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah).
“She’s clearly in their camp on this,” Senator John Thune (RS.D.) said of his support for the bills after praising Sinema for supporting her party in piracy. “A lot of these state laws don’t do what the Democrats say they do.”
While Republicans came out to praise her, potential 2024 top challenger Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona) named her by name in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives.
“Today, the House of Representatives showed what it is worth,” Gallego said immediately after Sinema’s speech in the Senate. “We will not shy away from defending our democracy and the voting rights of all Americans. It is high time for the US Senate and Senate Cinema to do the same.”