Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is holding firm in her opposition to changing the filibuster rule to push through new federal voting law.
Politico reported that Sinema supports the Freedom to Vote Act as well as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, but she’s not willing to bypass the Senate’s filibuster rule, which requires 60 votes to allow the legislation to move forward.
The current breakdown of the Senate is 50-50, meaning that even if Democrats like Sinema and Joe Manchin of West Virginia support the legislation, at least 10 Republicans would have to vote to end debate so the legislation could proceed to a full floor vote.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democratic senators have been in negotiations with Sinema, Manchin and others to craft a workaround that would make an exception for voting rights legislation, according to The Hill.
Among the changes Democrats are pushing for in federalizing the nation’s voting laws are permitting ballot harvesting, eliminating voter ID laws and loosening voter registration requirements, The Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky, who previously served on the Federal Election Commission, explained in October.
Reuters reported that the Freedom to Vote Act would allow for universal mail-in voting and permit voter registration up to and including Election Day.
Many states require registration some period of time before the election, often 30 days, to allow officials to verify eligibility.
Sinema’s spokesman John LaBombard appeared to cast significant doubt on whether the senator would support a plan to change the filibuster rule to pass new voting laws.
“Senator Sinema has asked those who want to weaken or eliminate the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation which she supports, if it would be good for our country to do so,” he said in a statement to The Hill.
LaBombard warned that the elimination of the filibuster could eventually lead to “nationwide voter-ID law, nationwide restrictions on vote-by-mail, or other voting restrictions currently passing in some states [being] extended nationwide.”
He added that Sinema is “willing to engage in good-faith discussions with her colleagues” that do not open the door for “repeated radical reversals in federal policy.”
Manchin echoed Sinema’s warning, saying the issue of changing or manipulating the filibuster rule is “a tough one … because what goes around comes around here. You’ve got to be very careful what you do.”
Last week, President Joe Biden came out in support of creating a filibuster exception to push voting legislation through the Senate.
“If the only thing standing between getting voting rights legislation passed and not getting passed is the filibuster, I support making an exception on voting rights for the filibuster,” Biden told ABC News.
EXCLUSIVE: Pres. Biden to @DavidMuir: “If the only thing standing between getting voting rights legislation passed and not getting passed is the filibuster, I support making the exception of voting rights for the filibuster.” https://t.co/yllwPKA5RO pic.twitter.com/Xbi2ijWQjA
— ABC News (@ABC) December 23, 2021
In an August interview on ABC’s “The View,” Sinema said no one likes the filibuster when they’re in the majority.
“People seem to not like the filibuster when they’re the ones who want to pass the legislation,” she said. “But when we’re in the minority — we being either Democrats or Republicans — we use the filibuster a lot to force dialogue, to bring people together and to make changes.”
Sinema cited coronavirus legislation passed in December 2020 as an example of Democrats using the filibuster to get more of their priorities into what then-President Donald Trump ultimately signed into law.
The senator argued the filibuster is a tool that should be retained so it can be used to block potential legislation she as a Democrat would not support regarding abortion, LBGT issues or the environment.
Sinema further argued that creating a “so-called exception” would in effect end the filibuster completely.
“Eliminating [the filibuster] would result in very negative restrictions on voting rights in the future,” Sinema said. “So thinking about this from the long term rather than the just right-now term, I think it’s really important.”
This article appeared originally on Patriot Project.
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