By Jack Phillips
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) was censured by the Arizona Democratic Party’s executive board over the weekend for voting to keep the Senate’s filibuster, which effectively blocked congressional Democrats’ voting legislation.
The symbolic gesture was handed down on Jan. 22 as Democrats sought to pass sweeping measures that would supersede efforts by states to strengthen their own voting laws, including requiring identification to vote, in the wake of the 2020 election.
Earlier this month, House Democrats passed the sweeping election overhaul measures on party-line votes, including one that would create federal standards for voting by mail, early voting, and voter ID. Another bill approved by House Democrats would restore some aspects of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
When the bill reached the Senate floor, Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) were the only two Democrats to vote against a measure that would change the 180-year-old filibuster. Democrats had sought to change the rule so they could pass the election overhaul bill with a simple majority, or 51 votes. Currently, Democrats control the 50–50 Senate because Vice President Kamala Harris casts tiebreaking votes.
“I want to be clear, the Arizona Democratic Party is a diverse coalition with plenty of room for policy disagreements; however, on the matter of the filibuster and the urgency to protect voting rights, we have been crystal clear,” Arizona Democratic Party Chair Raquel Teran said in a statement to news outlets. “In the choice between an archaic legislative norm and protecting Arizonans’ right to vote, we choose the latter, and we always will.
“We were counting on Sen. Sinema to fight for Arizona, find a path forward, and protect our democracy, but on this issue, she has fallen short. Right now, Arizona is ground-zero for the modern-day fight for voting rights, and we don’t have any time to waste.”
However, the filibuster was often used by Democratic senators when they were the minority party in the Senate during the 115th and 116th Congresses. They used the filibuster 314 times during former President Donald Trump’s years in office; the GOP used the legislative device 175 times during former President Barack Obama’s eight-year tenure.
In response to the Arizona Democratic Party’s bid to censure her, Sinema’s office defended her record.
“During three terms in the U.S. House, and now in the Senate, Kyrsten has always promised Arizonans she would be an independent voice for the state—not for either political party. She’s delivered for Arizonans and has always been honest about where she stands,” Sinema spokesperson Hannah Hurley told news outlets over the weekend.
And while Sinema, who is up for reelection in 2024, supports certain Democratic-backed voting rights provisions, she says that she is opposed to “actions that would deepen our divisions and risk repeated radical reversals in federal policy, cementing uncertainty and further eroding confidence in our government,” according to her office.
As Democrats have tried to push the voting measures through Congress, they’ve garnered virtually no Republican support. Republicans have said that Democrats’ voter overhaul bids are merely an attempt to “federalize elections.”
Sinema’s office didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.