Democratic Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema spoke out against increased political division during a more than 15-minute floor speech in which she also repeated her pledge not to eliminate the filibuster.
“I ran for the U.S. Senate rejecting partisanship, willing to work with anyone to help Arizonans build better and more secure lives,” she said, while bemoaning polarization. Sinema, along with Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, have both been clear that they will not vote to lower the 60 vote threshold required for passing most pieces of legislation, even as President Joe Biden and others have called it a tool of segregation.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted Biden’s assertion in a Wednesday floor speech, calling the remarks “incoherent, incorrect, and beneath his office.”
“I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country. The debate over the 60-vote threshold shines a light on our broader challenges. There is no need for me to restate its role protecting our country from wild reversals in federal policy,” Sinema said of the filibuster. “American politics are cyclical and the granting of power in Washington, D.C. is exchanged regularly by the voters from one party to another. This shift of power back and forth means the Senate 60-vote threshold has proved maddening to members of both.” (RELATED: Harris Shares Her Doubts Over Filibuster Roughly Five Years After Demanding Republicans Keep It)
Sinema placed recent fights over the filibuster at the feet of Democrats, whose “increased use of requiring cloture for judicial nominees under president George W. Bush led to similar tactics by Republicans under president Barack Obama.”
“The 2013 decision by Senate Democrats to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for most judicial and presidential nominations led directly to a response in 2017 by Senate Republicans, who eliminated the threshold for Supreme Court nominees. These shortsighted actions by both parties have led to our current American judiciary and Supreme Court, which as I stand here today is considering questions regarding fundamental rights Americans have enjoyed for decades,” she continued, in an apparent allusion to the case Dobbs v. Jackson Whole Women’s Health.
Sinema accused politicians “who spen[d] their career in party politics” of thinking that “their respective party alone can move the country forward.” This mindset leads to “policy inextricably be[ing] pushed from the middle towards the extremes,” she said.
Sinema also blasted leading Democrats’ strategy of “push[ing] party-line changes … in an equally divided Senate” and with the “House of Representatives … nearly equally divided as well.”
“Tensions are raised within the country, and traditional nonpartisan issues are transformed into partisan wedges. We must address the disease itself, the disease of division, to protect our democracy. And it cannot be achieved by one party alone. It cannot be achieved solely by the federal government,” she added.