Democratic political group EMILY’s List said it will not be supporting Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) in elections moving forward if she maintains her stance of not changing filibuster rules, effectively blocking federal legislation on voting rights from passing.
“Our mission can only be realized when everyone has the freedom to have their voice heard safely and freely at the ballot box,” the group, which backs Democratic women who support abortion rights, including Sinema in 2018, said in a statement Tuesday.
Adding that “the importance of voting rights outweighs that of an arcane process,” EMILY’s List warned that if Sinema holds her stance on the filibuster, “she will find herself standing alone in the next election.”
“We want to make it clear: If Sen. Sinema can not support a path forward for the passage of this legislation, we believe she undermines the foundations of our democracy, her own path to victory and also the mission of EMILY’s List, and we will be unable to endorse her moving forward.”
Later Tuesday, reproductive rights group NARAL also changed its endorsement criteria, saying it “won’t endorse any U.S. senator who doesn’t support changing the Senate rules to pass voting rights legislation.”
Sinema responded on Tuesday by noting that Democrats have used the filibuster in the past to protect abortion rights and suggested it’s something they may need in the future under a Republican-controlled Senate.
“While the Senate’s 60-vote threshold to end debate on legislation has been used repeatedly to protect against wild swings in federal policy, including in the area of protecting women’s health care, I said on the Senate floor last week that different people of good faith can have honest disagreements about policy and strategy,” Sinema said in a statement to HuffPost.
“Such honest disagreements are normal, and I respect those who have reached different conclusions on how to achieve our shared goals of addressing voter suppression and election subversion, and making the Senate work better for everyday Americans.”
On Tuesday, the Senate began formal debate on a federal voting rights bill, the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. The Democrat-led House advanced the bill last week in an attempt to bring it to the Senate floor to force a vote on the chamber’s filibuster rules.
Last week, Sinema said from the Senate floor that she would not support changing filibuster rules — which require a 60-vote supermajority to pass most laws — in order to pass voting rights legislation.
Fellow centrist Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has also refused to support altering filibuster rules.
Other Democratic lawmakers, as well as President Joe Biden, have emphasized the importance of passing federal voting rights legislation, namely by changing the filibuster to allow legislation to pass with a simple majority.
Three bills advanced by Democrats last year ― the For the People Act, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act ― were all blocked by Republicans in the Senate as they invoked the filibuster.
The new legislation lawmakers are debating this week includes elements of the Freedom to Vote Act (like expanding voter access and reforming redistricting and campaign finance) as well as of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (restoring elements of the Voting Rights Act gutted by the Supreme Court).
Voter restrictions disproportionately keep low-income voters, young people and Black and Latinx voters from the ballot.
Igor Bobic contributed reporting.