Sen. Mark Kelly supports change to Senate’s filibuster rule for voting-rights legislation

Until Wednesday, the senator has avoided answering specifically where he stood on proposed changes to the filibuster.

By Yvonne Wingett Sanchez | Arizona Republic

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., will support a change to the filibuster rule, The Arizona Republic has learned, showing for the first time a willingness to bend on an issue that has tied the Senate in knots for a year as the Democratic legislative agenda has stalled. 

Kelly, who is up for reelection this year, will back a “talking filibuster” rule only for the proposed voting rights legislation that he co-sponsors. 

A bill to impose federal regulations on voting that would effectively block Republican changes in states is expected to fail because two other Democrats have voiced opposition to changing rules to enact the bills on party lines. One is his seatmate, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly says he will support a change to the filibuster rule for the proposed voting legislation.

Kelly began signaling support in recent weeks for changing the status quo in the evenly divided chamber only as it relates to the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

At the same time, he has pushed back against political attacks on Arizona’s popular vote-by-mail system, which came under withering attacks led by former President Donald Trump and many of his supporters during the 2020 election and in its aftermath. 

But until Wednesday, the senator has avoided answering specifically where he stood on proposed changes to the filibuster, where 60 votes are necessary to get most bills through the 50-50 chamber.

Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, of New York announced his intent to create an exception to the filibuster for the bills with a “talking filibuster” to hold the floor after Republicans block advancement of the bills. The move would effectively allow for a simple majority vote instead of the current 60-vote threshold.

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