Senator Sinema BLOWS UP Biden’s move to kill the filibuster

OPINION: This article contains commentary which may reflect the author's opinion

Senator Kyrsten Simena has said she will not support Senator Joe Biden’s call to end the filibuster as he arrived on Capitol Hill Thursday to lobby Democrats on voting rights legislation.

‘It is clear that the two parties strategies are not working, not for either side and especially not for the country,’ she said in a 19-minute Senate speech.

It was her decision to block voting legislation that ultimately ended Democrats’ hopes for passage – even after a procedural gamble from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and intense lobbying from Vice President Joe Biden.

She made a persuasive argument in favor of the filibuster ahead of President Biden’s visit to Capitol Hill in an effort to convince her and fellow Democratic Senator Joe Manchin to join him in calling for the repeal of that legislative power.

As Biden walked into the Senate Democratic meeting, he did not answer any questions. His entrance was greeted with loud applause.

Simena was praised by Manchin, while Republicans said she saved the Senate.

Manchin told reporters that her speech was ‘excellent.’

‘Very good. Excellent speech,’ he exclaimed.

Mitch McConnell remarked that her speech was a ‘conspicuous of political courage.’

‘She saved the Senate as an institution,’ he declared.

Schumer did not answer any questions as he entered the meeting room for Biden’s meeting with Senate Democrats. But Dick Durbin, the Senate’s number two leader, said he was ‘disappointed but not surprised’ in Sinema’s actions.

In a statement, Sinema decried the divisive politics in the nation and said that it has led to anger among legislators and constituents alike. During her speech, she called on Senators to work together on a bipartisan bill that both parties could support.

‘Our mandate, it seems, evident to me: work together and get stuff done for America,’ she said on the floor of the Senate.

‘We must address the disease itself, the disease of division, to protect our democracy, and it cannot be achieved by one party alone. The response requires something greater and, yes, more difficult than what the Senate is discussing today.’

‘When one party needs to only negotiate with itself, policy will inextricably be pushed from the middle towards the extremes.’

Her view was that the filibuster serves as a “guardrail” to protect the political center, ensuring that the minority party is represented by millions of Americans:

‘The steady escalation of tip for tat, in which each new majority weakens the guardrails of the Senate and excludes input from the other party, furthering resentment and anger, amongst this body, and our constituents at home.’

Although she supports the voting rights bills being pushed by Democrats, she does not support doing so at the cost of eliminating the filibuster:

‘Eliminating the 60 vote threshold on a party line with the thinnest of possible majorities to pass these bills that I support will not guarantee that we prevent demagogues from winning office. Indeed, some who undermine the principles of democracy have already been elected. Rather, eliminating the 60 vote threshold will simply guarantee that we lose a critical tool that we need to safeguard our democracy from threats in the years to come.’

Sinema also called on her fellow Senators to ‘lower the political temperature and to seek lasting solutions.’

As part of a procedural gambit designed to bypass a Republican filibuster, the House passed a bill on voting rights on Thursday, which was sent to the Senate as part of Schumer’s effort to start debate on the legislation without being blocked by Republican senators.

The measure passed on a party-line vote of 220-203. By buying time, Schumer and Democratic leaders hope to persuade Machin and Sinema to work with them to change Senate rules to prevent a filibuster on voting legislation.

The heaviest hitters in the Democratic Party have come out swinging in an effort to convince Manchin and Sinema to get on board with killing the filibuster. Biden was going to meet with Democrat Senators in person, Kamala Harris discussed Manchin and Sinema on NBC News, and Obama penned an op-ed in USA Today going with the race card, saying that the filibuster is a racist tool to ‘prop up Jim Crow.’

In the end, Sinema has remained steadfast from the start, stating her firm conviction on the matter.

Despite the gamble, Schumer may not have been able to bring the bill to a vote, since he would need 10 GOP senators in his corner to secure a final vote of 60.

It is a consensus that elections should be conducted on a state level instead of a national level among Republicans.

Schumer detailed his plan for getting voting legislation passed in a memo to lawmakers on Wednesday.

The plans may have another complication: Democratic Senator Brian Schatz tested positive for COVID and was quarantined. This leaves Democrats with one fewer vote.

Senate Republicans opposed the bill, so the House introduced an unrelated NASA bill. The House substituted the combined language of two voting bills being slowed down in the Senate, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, for NASA language.

Nancy Pelosi forwarded the measure to the Senate as a ‘message’ from the Democratic-controlled chamber.

The bill would be classified as a ‘message between the houses,’ which means Schumer can go around Republicans’ vow to filibuster without needing 60 votes to start the debate. As a result, the legislation can be debated.

‘Then the Senate will finally hold a debate on voting rights legislation for the first time in this Congress, and every Senator will be faced with a choice of whether or not to pass this legislation to protect our democracy,’ Schumer told his colleagues on Thursday.

It does not ensure the legislation will be passed, however. At the end of the debate, Schumer will need 60 votes to file cloture, which means he will need the support of 10 Republicans to end the debate on the bill.

Using their filibuster power, Republicans can prevent legislation from moving forward.

In that case, Schumer would have to decide whether to invoke the ‘nuclear option,’ meaning changing Senate rules to move the bill forward with a simple majority instead of 60 votes.

When he goes nuclear, he will need Harris and all 50 Democrats to join him in killing the filibuster.

According to him, that’s what he’ll do.

‘Of course, to ultimately end debate and pass anything, we will also need 10 Republicans to join us ultimately on cloture,’ Schumer said today.

‘If they don’t, we will be left with no choice but to consider changes to Senate rules so we can move forward, and changing Senate rules has been done many times before in this chamber. This is not the first, second or third time that this is happening. All of us must make a choice about whether or not we will do our part to preserve our democratic republic in this day and age.’

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