NEWS & ANALYSIS

Sen. Sinema Won’t Support Changing Filibuster


Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema announced Thursday that she won’t support changing the filibuster under any circumstances. 

Sinema said that while she supports two new voting rights bills, she believes that a Democratic move to weaken the filibuster will only create further political division. 

“These bills help treat the symptoms of the disease, but they do not fully address the disease itself,” Sinema said, per the New York Times. “And while I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country.” 

Indeed, Sinema has faced increased pressure from her colleagues to drop her opposition to a change in the rules, and her speech followed House passage of a repackaged set of voting rights bills. 

The new legislation combined two separate bills already passed by the House — the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — and joined them in what had been an unrelated measure covering NASA. The move will allow the Senate to bring the bill directly to the floor, moving around an initial filibuster, though Republicans could still block it from coming to a final vote.

“The Senate will finally hold a debate on the voting rights legislation for the first time in this Congress,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday. “Every senator will be faced with the choice of whether or not to pass this legislation to protect our democracy.”

While all 50 Senate Democrats support the legislation, Republicans are almost unanimously opposed, leaving Democrats short of the 60 votes needed under current rules to end debate and force a final vote. 

Biden urged Democrats to force through a rules change for the voting legislation to allow the party to skirt around a filibuster through simple majority. However, with Sinema and Joe Manchin saying they won’t do so, it’s not looking promising.