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Liberal groups call on Sinema to end the Senate filibuster

By: - February 18, 2021 9:34 am
kyrsten sinema

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

A coalition of more than 40 progressive groups that have supported U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in the past is now pressuring her to change her mind about her stance on eliminating the filibuster. 

Sinema has been clear: She opposes ending the filibuster, which requires any proposal to effectively win 60 votes to pass the 100-member chamber, and she isn’t interested in hearing arguments aimed at changing her mind.

Eliminating the filibuster would allow any legislation to pass with a simple majority vote. The Senate is split 50-50, but Democrats hold the tie-breaking vote in Vice President Kamala Harris. Democrats also control the House of Representatives, the first time since 2011 they have held majorities in both chambers of Congress. 

“What voters care about is the issues that impact their lives, not these rules on Senate procedure,” Emily Kirkland, executive director for Progress Arizona, told the Arizona Mirror

Progress Arizona is one of the groups urging Sinema to reconsider her position, and Kirkland said they are planning to keep the pressure on her. 

Sinema is one of two Democratic senators, along with West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, who have said they will vote to not kill the filibuster. President Joe Biden, who served in the Senate for decades, has also signaled that he is against killing the filibuster.  

“We are very aware that it will take sustained pressure,” Kirkland said, adding that the filibuster will likely stand between the Democratic majority and legislation affecting immigration, climate change and voting rights. 

Editor’s Thought Bubble: This is who Kyrsten Sinema is

The last time the Democratic party had a majority in the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell used the filibuster to block a large number of President Barack Obama’s executive branch nominees, which led to then-Majority Leader Harry Reid to eliminate the filibuster for most confirmations. 

Groups that have signed onto the letter asking Sinema to reconsider include Arizona AFL-CIO, Arizona Advocacy Network, Chispa Arizona, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona and LUCHA. 

Sinema’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Sinema has long frustrated liberal groups in Arizona. Although she began her political career as a far-left activist, she won election to Congress in 2012 as a centrist in a swing district. After winning re-election two times, she won her Senate race in 2018 after campaigning as an independent-minded Democrat who wouldn’t follow along with the party’s leaders.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.