Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema defended the filibuster in a Washington Post op-ed ahead of a major vote on the Democrats’ big voting rights bill Monday.
Sinema, who along with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has been a key opponent of the Democrats’ push to eliminate or reform the filibuster to pass legislation with a simple majority, argued that the only way to achieve “lasting results” is through “bipartisan cooperation,” even though many key legislative victories -- from the Democrats’ Obamacare to the Republican tax cuts -- passed with single-party support and remain in effect despite numerous calls to repeal the bills.
Sinema noted that, on the other hand, “a bipartisan approach has produced laws curbing suicide among our troops and veterans, boosting American manufacturing, delivering for Native American communities, combating hate crimes, and protecting public lands.”
GOP may repeal bills passed by Dems:
Sinema argued that the filibuster has been used to “protect against attacks on women’s health, clean air and water, or aid to children and families in need” and argued that Republicans may use the elimination of the filibuster to repeal any laws passed by a Democratic majority.
Sinema questioned if it would be good to eliminate the filibuster to pass the For the People Act, a sweeping voting rights bill she supporters, “only to see that legislation rescinded a few years from now and replaced by a nationwide voter-ID law or restrictions on voting by mail in federal elections, over the objections of the minority?”
She argued that eliminating the filibuster to expand health care could open the door to Republicans replacing Medicaid with block grants and slashing benefits and legislation to strengthen environmental protections could be undone by Republicans as well.
“I will not support an action that damages our democracy because someone else did so previously or might do so in the future,” she wrote. “I do not accept a new standard by which important legislation can only pass on party-line votes — and when my party is again in the Senate minority, I will work just as hard to preserve the right to shape legislation.”
Sinema’s op-ed was met with many eyerolls on the left, many of whom pointed out that one party reversing the other party’s legislation is how Congress already works.
“Sinema’s op-ed seems to forget that Medicare, Medicaid, and other spending programs can be completely eliminated” with a simple majority vote using the budget reconciliation process, wrote Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis, as could Obamacare and Planned Parenthood funding.
“Almost all of the examples Sinema cites of things the filibuster is necessary to protect could actually be abolished using reconciliation,” added columnist Andrew Gawthorpe.
And on the topic of voting rights, many argued that preventing Republican subversion of the election ahead of the next election after over a dozen Republican-led states passed new voting restrictions is more important than preserving bipartisanship.
“Sinema believes the rights of the Senate minority are more important than the voting rights of millions of Americans, wrote former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer.