Recently, five members of a council of veterans advising Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) resigned in protest of the controversial Senator’s de facto blockade of key elements of the Biden agenda. She has been one of the few voices on the Democratic side in opposition to an initially proposed $3.5 trillion spending plan that would include sweeping support for initiatives from addressing climate change to caring for children, and amid negotiations, that initial proposal has already been watered down.
Sinema has also continuously supported the Senate’s filibuster rules, which essentially allow Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to lord over much of the Senate. The rules demand the agreement of at least 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber before moving forward on most bills, meaning that, even if there’s a simple majority in support of a move, the other side can block it. On CNN this week, Sylvia Andersh — who was one of those who resigned from the Sinema advisory council — took the Arizona Senator to task for glossing over critical issues, including voting rights. Certain spending-related bills are exempt from the Senate’s filibuster rules, so Democrats can pass the sweeping social plan on their own with the current party breakdown in place — but voting rights aren’t exempt.
As Andersh pointedly put it:
‘I know that I have deep and sincere wishes that [Sinema] will come to the table and really negotiate. And I know she’s a strong woman, and I’m hoping for the best… She ran on prescription drug prices, and helping veterans. We have a lot of concerns right now about voting rights and that really came to us as a very, very significant problem. Without voting rights, we can’t have a strong democracy, and right now the Republicans are really making an effort, especially in Arizona, to limit our rights. And there are half a million veterans in the state of Arizona, and many of those have PTSD and physical disabilities that make it difficult if not impossible for them to participate in our democracy.’
Watch Andersh’s comments below:
As Andersh referenced, Arizona is one of a slew of states where Republican leaders have pushed and in some cases successfully enacted suppressive new restrictions around the electoral process. In May, for instance, Arizona authorities enacted a law that was poised to kick 100-200,000 people off of a list of mail-in voters in the state who were automatically sent mail-in ballots for every election. The removals would come if the voter didn’t cast a mail-in ballot at least once every two years. In Arizona, most voters cast their votes via the mail — and there has never been any evidence of a systematic integrity problem with mail-in voting.