Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said on Jan. 13 that she will not vote to weaken the Senate's 60-vote filibuster threshold, bucking her party leaders yet again and dealing a major blow to Democrats' election reform effort.
The voting legislation that Democrats and civil rights leaders say is vital for protecting democracy appears headed for defeat as the Senate churned into debate, a devastating setback enabled by President Joe Biden’s own party as two holdout senators refuse to support rule changes to overcome a Republican filibuster.
The debate carries echoes of an earlier era when the Senate filibuster was deployed in lengthy speeches by opponents of civil rights legislation. It comes as Democrats and other voting advocates nationwide warn that Republican-led states are passing laws making it more difficult for Black Americans and others to vote by consolidating polling locations, requiring certain types of identification and ordering other changes.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.
Sen. Kelly's full statement below:
"My year in the Senate has shown me how dysfunctional this place can be, and how that prevents progress on issues that matter to Arizonans. We’re seeing that now, as voting rights legislation remains blocked while partisan politicians work to undermine Arizona’s successful vote-by-mail system and create more barriers to vote.
As an astronaut and a combat veteran, I can tell you that if NASA or the Navy functioned like the United States Senate, we would never get the rocket off the launchpad and in combat we’d never complete the mission. Arizonans deserve a Senate that is more responsive to the challenges facing our country, which is why I’ve spoken with Arizonans and my Republican and Democratic colleagues about their views on what can be done to make this place work better. I’ve considered what rules changes would mean not just today, but years down the road, for both parties and all Arizonans.
If campaign finance and voting rights reforms are blocked again this week, I will support the proposed changes to pass them with a majority vote. Protecting the vote-by-mail system used by a majority of Arizonans and getting dark money out of our elections is too important to let fall victim to Washington dysfunction.
Whether the Senate fails or succeeds in passing this legislation, I will continue doing this job just as I promised Arizonans: delivering results by working with Republicans and Democrats to find common ground as we have on infrastructure, standing up to party politics, and staying focused on doing what is best for Arizona."
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