Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) is setting up a legacy that includes helping sink the chance for Democrats to enact substantial new protections for voting rights. This week, Sinema yet again reiterated her commitment to the Senate’s filibuster rules, which require that 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber agree before proceeding on most bills, including those protecting voting rights. These rules allow for the Senate’s minority — in this case, the Republicans — to block something that could eventually pass the chamber with a simple majority of the votes in favor.
Sinema called John Lewis “my hero” but is going to allow Republicans to filibuster the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act on MLK weekend
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) January 14, 2022
An Arizona group calling itself the “Primary Sinema Project” on Twitter experienced a boost this week after the Arizona Senator delivered a speech outlining her commitment to the Senate’s filibuster rules. (Sinema delivered this speech amid a renewed push by Democratic leaders to get voting rights protections passed.) The group rocketed from about 6 thousand followers on Twitter to 36 thousand and counting, and on Friday, they laid out some of their concerns with the impact of Sinema’s actions, commenting:
‘Kyrsten Sinema’s antics are hurting President Biden’s agenda and ruining prospects for Democrats up and down the ballot – including Mark Kelly. She’s putting our entire party at risk for her own vanity exercise. She’s putting our democracy at risk. By cozying up with Mitch McConnell and refusing to abolish the filibuster, she’s allowing insurrectionists to get their way. Because of her, voting rights looks doomed to fail. We can actually beat her. Polling shows she’s vulnerable, but we have to start now. We’re putting money into the groups with boots on the ground that are doing the organizing to ensure we win.’
The Arizona Democratic Party also expressed opposition to Sinema’s stance, with state party chairperson Raquel Terán, commenting, in part, as follows:
‘We have spent countless hours organizing and listening to the people of Arizona, and what they want is change. This is not a divisive issue, this is about the future of democracy. Without the protection of voting rights, democracy fails. We are disappointed to say the least that Senator Sinema has chosen to protect an antiquated rule over her constituents.’
ADP Statement on Voting Rights and Abolishing the Filibuster: pic.twitter.com/O12661x2eN
— Arizona Democratic Party (@azdemparty) January 13, 2022
If Mitch McConnell expresses ardent support for your actions, then it seems safe to say that you’re heading the wrong direction — but that’s exactly what happened this week after Sinema’s speech supporting the filibuster. McConnell said that Sinema undertook a “conspicuous act of political courage” that “saved the Senate as an institution” — which is just ridiculous. Why should the institutional salvation of the Senate — or whatever — be considered higher on the priorities list than Senators being able to actually do what they were elected to do? As for the potential in a filibuster-less world for stark swings in federal policy-making with the changing of majorities in the Senate — that’s just how it works, and why elections are important.
Playbook: A person close to Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego said he's gearing up to primary Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in 2024. As progressive groups rally behind Gallego, urging him to 'Run Ruben Run,' Gallego has taken serious steps in recent months. @playbookdc
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 14, 2022