Sen. Sinema of Arizona defends her support of legislative filibuster

Jun 3, 2021, 4:25 AM
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)...
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona on Tuesday defended her support of the legislative filibuster, which may make some of President Joe Biden’s most ambitious agenda items harder to pass.

The filibuster requires 60 votes for most legislation to pass. The Senate is currently split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaker.

“As folks in Arizona know, I’ve long been a supporter of the filibuster because it is a tool that protects the democracy of our nation rather than allowing our country to ricochet wildly every two to four years back and forth between policies,” Sinema told reporters after touring migrant facilities in Tucson with Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.

“The idea of the filibuster was created by those who came before us in the United States Senate to create commodity and to encourage senators to find bipartisanship and work together.”

Sinema added the thought a choice must be made between eliminating the filibuster or democracy is a “false choice.”

“When you have a system that is not working effectively, and I would think that most would agree that the Senate is not a well-oiled machine, the way to fix that is to change your behavior, not to eliminate the rules or change the rules but to change your behavior.

“I’m going to continue going to work every day aggressively seeking bipartisanship in a cheerful and happy warrior way as I always do and showing that when we work together, we can get things done.”

She’s not alone in not wanting to ditch the filibuster, with as many as 10 Democratic senators also reluctant to change the rules even for must-pass legislation.

It doesn’t appear the senior Arizona senator will change her mind, responding to a question of whether she would budge on the issue with a simple “no.”

Sinema appeared to draw criticism from Biden on Tuesday, with the fellow Democratic president calling out two Democrats as a reason some agenda items haven’t been enacted.

Responding to critics who questioned why a wide-reaching voting rights bill hasn’t been passed, Biden responded, “Well, because Biden only has a majority of effectively four votes in the House, and a tie in the Senate — with two members of the Senate who voted more with my Republican friends.”

However, both Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia – the other presumed moderate Democrat Biden was speaking of – haven’t been voting more with Republicans and have aligned with the president 100% so far during his presidency.

Sinema did draw ire for not being at the vote last week to create a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection, citing a personal family matter, but said she would have backed it if she were there.

Biden has not said whether or not he wants to end the filibuster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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