Democrats’ Voting Rights Bill in Critical Danger as Sen. Sinema Doubles Down on Filibuster Support
23:10 GMT 13.01.2022 (Updated: 14:00 GMT 19.12.2022)
Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has been a longtime supporter of the filibuster, a procedural mechanism that allows one or more senators to stop a bill from reaching a vote on the Senate floor. Then, at least 60 senators must approve a cloture motion, which halts debate on the bill, to bring the proposed legislation to a vote.
Another centrist roadblock emerged for Democrats on Thursday, when fellow party member Sen. Kyrsten Sinema reiterated her intent to not entertain changes to the chamber’s 60-vote threshold to pass legislation.
“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,” she said.
Sinema stated that “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.”
The US senator for Arizona argued that “harried” talks about the Senate rules are a poor substitute for what could have been a “thoughtful public debate” over the past several months.
Another Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), has opposed filibuster reform. Manchin told reporters on Thursday that his colleague delivered an “excellent speech.”
The centrist Democrat’s comments come in spite of her support for the party’s election reforms bill. While Sinema appears steadfast in her decision, her refusal to support filibuster reform likely means that Democrats will be unable to pass voting rights legislation ahead of the 2022 midterm elections season.
Earlier on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) argued that Democrats owe it to American voters to combat restrictive voting laws passed via simple majority vote on state and local levels.
“If the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, then how can we in good conscience allow for a situation in which the Republican Party can debate and pass voter suppression laws at the state level with only a simple majority vote, but not allow the United States to do the same?” asked Schumer.
Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday that combines the Freedom to Vote Act
and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act
, named after the late civil rights leader and long-term congressman, which strengthens the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
13 January 2022, 18:32 GMT
The Senate Majority leader has signaled that he intends to force a vote on changing the legislative chamber’s rules when Republicans, as expected, move to block the voting reforms bill.