WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a key centrist who is often a holdout on major elements of President Joe Biden’s agenda, reiterated she does not support modifying or eliminating the filibuster to ease the passage of voting rights legislation, she said in an interview with the Washington Post.
Sinema, who is a co-sponsor of Democratic voting rights bills aimed at prohibiting racial discrimination and ensuring ballot access, told the newspaper that she continues to oppose efforts by fellow Democrats to eliminate the filibuster, a Senate rule that requires a 60-vote supermajority to pass most legislation.
“My opinion is that legislation that is crafted together, in a bipartisan way, is the legislation that’s most likely to pass and stand the test of time. And I would certainly encourage my colleagues to use that effort to move forward,” she told the Post.
She also brushed off the possibility of supporting an exception to the filibuster to enable passage of voting rights legislation, saying she was not sure it is a viable option.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had hinted at a change in Senate rules earlier this month to circumvent the filibuster, at least for some legislation.
“That caveat — ‘if it would even work’ — is the right question to ask,” Sinema, who rarely gives interviews, told the Post.
Senate Democrats earlier this month failed to advance voting rights legislation for the fourth time this year due to overwhelming Republican opposition, raising potential ramifications for the 2022 congressional and 2024 presidential elections.
The Senate voted 50-49 in favor of starting debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act but fell short of the 60 votes needed.
Named for the late civil rights activist and congressman, the legislation would restore state voting requirements to prohibit racial discrimination that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in 2013.
Democrats have made election reform a priority in light of Republican state balloting restrictions passed in response to former President Donald Trump’s false claims of massive voter fraud in the 2020 election.
(This story has corrected spelling of Sinema’s first name to Kyrsten instead of Krysten in paragraph 1)
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; editing by Jonathan Oatis)