Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema vowed not to support the elimination of filibuster to pass voting rights law Thursday, equating the move with an “underlying divisive disease infecting our country.”
In a Senate speech less than an hour before President Biden meets with the Senate Democratic caucus on the two voting rights bills, the moderate Democrat affirmed her support for the legislation, but refused to support actions aimed at escaping the 60- voting threshold.
“These bills help strains of the disease [of division], but they don’t fully treat the disease itself, “Sinema said, after detailing a” divisive “disease in the country and Congress.
“And while I continue to support these bills, I will not be supporting the separate actions that sent the underlying disease in division infecting our country.”
Sinema stressed the dangers of removing filibuster, noting that when a party “only negotiates with itself, politics will be inextricably pushed from the middle to the extremes.”
She pointed to the constant change of power in Washington DC as Democrats and Republicans hold a majority in Congress and the White House.
Sinema said the legislative obstruction ensures the policy is backed by senators representing broader parts of the country, rather than focusing only on the majority party.
“But what is legislative obstruction, other than a tool that requires new federal policy to be broadly supported by senators representing a wider range of Americans, an inevitable safeguard seen as a hindrance by anyone?” holds a majority in the Senate; but which in reality ensure that millions of Americans represented by the minority party have a voice in the process, ”she said.
Biden is scheduled to hit Capitol Hill around 1 p.m. on Thursday in a bid to secure full party unity to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Advancement Act by eliminating or amending the ‘obstruction.
But he’s unlikely to influence Sinema or his fellow moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, or West Virginia.
Biden, who has championed filibuster for at least two decades, approved the elimination of the procedure on Tuesday, saying there was “no choice” but to change Senate rules to advance legislation in the Senate 50-50.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has pledged to call for a vote on the rule change by January 17 – though without full party support the measure is likely to fail.
Manchin admitted this week that the Senate needs “good rule changes,” but added that “getting rid of filibuster doesn’t make it work any better.”
Republicans criticized the Democratic push, citing Biden and Schumer’s previous support for the procedure.
In 2005, then-Senator Biden vigorously defended the filibuster, saying it was “compromise and moderation.”
At the time, some Republicans were hesitant about suppressing the procedure, which he described as “an example of the arrogance of power”.
“This is a fundamental takeover of the majority party, propelled by its far right and intended to change the reading of the Constitution, in particular with regard to individual rights and property rights. It is neither more nor less ”, he declared, stressing the importance of the systematic obstruction to moderate the senators.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will continue to work “over the phone” over the next few days to push the legislation forward, according to the White House.
New York Post