Dem Sen. Sinema schools ‘The View’ on voting rights and how the filibuster protects them

Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema supports a voting reform bill being pushed by her party that would supersede current state laws in ways Republicans say would eliminate ballot integrity, but she’s not willing to ditch the chamber’s 60-vote filibuster rule to pass it.

That’s because if Democrats ditch the filibuster and use their very thin majority in the chamber to enact the measure, it will only be repealed down the road by a Republican Senate and president, she argued during an appearance Friday on ABC’s “The View.”

The moderate Democrat defended her position in response to remarks from co-hosts Sunny Hostin, who falsely claimed that the filibuster has a “racist” history, and Joy Behar, who said “voting rights” are at stake.

“I think that voting rights are too crucial to just say, ‘Well, we need to keep it for when we need it.’ It’s too important because if we don’t have— if everyone in the country is not able to vote, you don’t really have a country,” Behar insisted.

“Not only won’t you have the filibuster, you won’t have a country,” she claimed, without elaborating on how that would happen.

“So for me, it seems like it’s an emergency right now that we get rid of the filibuster even though we might pay down the road. If we don’t have voting rights, what do we got? Nothing,” Behar said.

Sinema responded by recounting some of what she had written in a recent Washington Post op-ed in which she explained, again, her opposition to getting rid of the filibuster rule, which requires 60 votes from members in order to advance legislation.

“If we were to eliminate the filibuster or create a so-called exception, which actually doesn’t exist so you would have to limit the filibuster in order to pass voting rights legislation — which, just as a quick reminder, I’m a co-sponsor of that legislation and I voted to support and advance it, continue to do so,” Sinema said.

“If you eliminate the filibuster to pass that piece of legislation, then in four years or any time when the other party gains control, without the filibuster in place, all of those voting rights protections could be easily wiped out with a simple majority vote,” Sinema continued.

The Arizona Democrat then discussed what her party’s voting reform legislation could be replaced with by Republicans if they were able to do so with a simple Senate majority.

“You could have a nationwide ban on mail-in voting. You could have requirements for voter I.D. at every level of government for every election throughout the country,” Sinema explained.

“So the thing to remember, and I know this can be really hard to do when we’re feeling really worried about what’s coming right in front of us, is to think a couple of years down the road on what it looks like if you remove this tool, this protection for the minority, what happens when you are the minority and that tool is no longer there to protect your rights?” she added.

“So the sense of urgency I think many of us share in wanting to protect voting rights, and we’re all working to do this across the country, but eliminating this tool would result in very negative restrictions on voting rights in the future,” Sinema predicted. “So thinking about this from the long-term rather than the just right now term, I think, is really important. It’s the way that I’m viewing this discussion.”

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has also balked at his party’s push to eliminate the filibuster rule.

Jon Dougherty

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