Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) on Tuesday reiterated her support for the Senate filibuster despite growing pressure to eliminate the chamber’s longstanding supermajority requirement for passing legislation.
“It is a tool that protects the democracy of our nation. Rather than allowing our country to ricochet wildly every two to four years back and forth between policies, the idea of the filibuster was created by those who came before to create comity and to encourage bipartisanship and work together,” Sinema told reporters at an event with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) in Tucson, according to The Arizona Republic.
“To those who say that we must make a choice between the filibuster and ‘X,’ I say, this is a false choice,” Sinema added.
Sinema is among several Democrats in the Senate who have said this year that they oppose changing rules to make it easier to pass legislation in the Senate. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is equally adamant about keeping the filibuster, vowing that he will “never” vote to get rid of it.
Last week, Republicans filibustered legislation establishing a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Fifty-four senators voted to advance the bill ― including six Republicans ― but it failed to move forward because 60 votes were required to do so.
More legislation is expected to face a GOP filibuster after Congress returns to Washington from recess next week. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has announced the chamber will be taking up legislation dealing with expanding gun background checks, LGBTQ rights and voting rights ― all issues that sharply divide the two parties.
The end of the month will bring the biggest test for the filibuster yet when Democrats attempt to bring the For the People Act, their big voting and election ethics overhaul bill, to the floor. Sinema has co-sponsored the legislation, but Manchin opposes it as currently written. Without his support, Democrats may not be able to advance it to the floor for a vote on passage.
“The reality is that when you have a system that is not working effectively — and I would think that most would agree that the Senate is not a particularly well-oiled machine, right? The way to fix that is to fix your behavior, not to eliminate the rules or change the rules, but to change the behavior,” Sinema argued on Tuesday.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday expressed frustration with commentators who say he isn’t doing enough to get his agenda through Congress. Speaking at an event in Tulsa, Biden noted that Democrats control extremely tight majorities in both chambers, limiting how much they can do without total unanimity.
Biden called out Manchin and Sinema indirectly by noting there are “two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends” on certain issues.
“June should be a month of action on Capitol Hill,” Biden said at the event, urging Congress to protect voting rights amid a nationwide push by Republicans in state legislatures to limit access to the ballot.