In floor speech, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema defends filibuster, a fresh blow to Democratic push on voting rights

Jason Crow, center, speaks during a news conference on ending the Senate filibuster as Pramila Jayapal, Madeleine Dean, Sean Casten and Cori Bush listen in Washington last week. /Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

By Yvonne Wingett Sanchez | Arizona Republic

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema dealt a seemingly crippling blow Thursday to Democratic hopes of changing voting laws by maintaining she would not support changes to the Senate’s filibuster rule.

Sinema, D-Ariz., delivered a Senate floor speech that effectively stymies efforts this week led by President Joe Biden to create at least some exception to the 60-vote rule on legislative matters.

Her seatmate, Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., has not fully clarified his own thinking on the issue, but Sinema’s position, along with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and perhaps others, leaves Democrats unable, at least for now, to muscle any rule changes through the 50-50 Senate.

Sinema, who supports the two voting-rights bills backed by party leaders, resisted pressure from the White House, Democrats of all stripes, faith leaders, and voting-rights advocates who argued that inaction by the Senate jeopardizes the nation’s democracy. 

In a 20-minute floor speech ahead of Biden’s arrival to the Capitol for the Democratic caucus lunch, Sinema said she backs the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act and called the filibuster a “critical tool” for safeguarding democracy in a nation bitterly divided by tribal politics. 

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