Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) expressed her full-fledged support of the For The People Act Thursday night, noting that she was a cosponsor.
She did not mention, though, that another position she holds dear makes her one of the sole obstacles to the bill’s passage.
Voting rights are fundamental to our democracy.
That’s why we cosponsored the For the People Act, legislation protecting Americans’ voting rights and the integrity of our elections. pic.twitter.com/7Qnk6v7N76
— Kyrsten Sinema (@kyrstensinema) April 8, 2021
Sinema is one of two senators, along with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who has publicly maintained opposition to doing away with or changing the filibuster. She’s been fairly taciturn on her reasoning though, recently telling reporters on Capitol Hill that she had no comment on the topic for them, laughing that she “loved their enthusiasm” when they kept pushing for specifics.
HR1 must go through regular order, meaning that it needs 10 Republican votes with the filibuster in its current state. Based on GOP comments so far, as well as the party’s embrace of restrictive voting legislation on the state level, it is very unlikely to garner that bipartisan support.
Some Democrats have suggested appeasing Sinema and Manchin’s love of the filibuster by establishing a special carveout on voting rights legislation (selectively “going nuclear,” like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did recently on Supreme Court nominations).
But Manchin dismissed that idea, comparing it to being “a little bit pregnant,” and claimed that there is bipartisan support for many of the bill’s measures. He has suggested stripping out some pieces from HR1 to make it more palatable to Republicans.
Sinema has not publicly positioned herself on such specifics. She gave an inch more on her feelings towards the filibuster in general during a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal. She, like Manchin, dug into her filibuster support during recess while away from Washington D.C.
“When you have a place that’s broken and not working, and many would say that’s the Senate today, I don’t think the solution is to erode the rules,” she said this week. “I think the solution is for senators to change their behavior and begin to work together, which is what the country wants us to do.”
Her reasoning deeply frustrated anti-filibuster activists, as the chances that Republicans will simply “change their behavior” to help Democrats pass their legislative priorities without the pressure of threatened filibuster elimination seem nonexistent.
Up to this point, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has been notably bullish on bringing legislation, like HR1, that seems to have a dim future as long as the filibuster persists, to the floor for a vote. He promised that it would be one of the first priorities when the Senate returns from recess next week.
Even more traditional Democrats who have recently balked at eliminating or chipping away at the filibuster — like Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) — have warmed to the idea in recent weeks, almost always specifically citing the need to expand and protect voting rights amid the nationwide assault.