Kyrsten Sinema Just Wondering How Democrats Will Pass Voting Rights Bill That She’s Helping The GOP Block

Vote suppression

Senate Democrats were in a private caucus meeting Thursday when Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema asked Majority Leader Chuck Schumer how they plan to pass their vital election reform bill. Sinema's served in the Senate for more than two years, so she should know by now that you pass bills in the Senate with more “yes" votes than “no" votes. It's usually a matter of just counting how many Democrats and Republicans you have. This should've come up in new member orientation, but maybe Sinema was just engaging in the Socratic method.

According to multiple sources at the meeting, Schumer told Sinema that his plan is for Democrats to “stick together," which is not so much a plan as a motivational speech. This pep talk could help the Democrats successfully mount a community theatre production of Hamilton, but it won't do much to pass the For the People Act, which Republicans uniformly oppose because they are anti-people.

Sinema isn't some passive observer in this process. She co-sponsored the bill, not that you would know this by reading her Twitter feed. She's usually too busy boasting about all her “bipartisan" achievements, such as designating July 21st as Glioblastoma Awareness Day in honor of the late Senator John McCain. That's sweet and all, but meanwhile, in Tucson, Arizona, which is the state Sinema safely represents in the bipartisan way, the executive director of Heritage Action, Jessica Anderson, bragged to donors last month in a leaked video about how “quickly and quietly" they were able to pass these voter suppression laws.

"In some cases, we actually draft them for them," [Anderson] said, "or we have a sentinel on our behalf give them the model legislation so it has that grassroots, from-the-bottom-up type of vibe."

Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts shared this Mother Jones expose Friday, which reinforced that Republican arguments about these bills are all bullshit. They aren't designed to make it “easy to vote and hard to cheat." They are all part of the same rightwing crusade to restrict voting access.

Fortunately, we have Senator Warren to remind us what's happening in Sinema's own backyard. She's even upset about it, like she's someone who wants Black people to keep voting.

Lizzie W. tweeted:

The racist voter suppression laws across the US are a methodical attack on our democracy by scared Republican insiders who don't think they can win an election fair and square. We must pass the #ForThePeople Act now to protect all Americans' right to vote.

Instead of sounding alarms about the Right's coordinated assault on democracy, here's what the senior senator from Arizona tweeted Friday:

Arizona's law enforcement risk their lives every day to keep our communities safe. Police Week is an opportunity for all of us to show our thanks, honor the service of law enforcement, and remember those who lost their lives in the line of duty.

Kissing the police's blue meanie asses is a longstanding American tradition, but it's not going to help Sinema pass the For the People Act. She should try actively countering Republican lies about the bill and even occasionally mentioning that the legislation exists. That's how you successfully Senate.

If Democrats “stick together," they will still fail to pass either the For the People Act or the John Lewis Voting Act. Republicans will filibuster both without hesitation. Sinema's much-vaunted “bipartisanship" hasn't convinced a single Republican to support the bill she's co-sponsoring. The only viable plan is to nuke the filibuster and pass the damn bill. Democrat such as Warren and Chris Murphy from Connecticut are making it clear what's at stake if the legislation dies.

However, Sinema adores the filibuster, just like any other 44-year-old year old Senate traditionalist who's not yet halfway through her first term.

From the Arizona Republic:

Sinema recently released a statement [in March] saying, "I have long said that I oppose eliminating the filibuster for votes on legislation. Retaining the legislative filibuster is not meant to impede the things we want to get done. Rather, it's meant to protect what the Senate was designed to be.

"I believe the Senate has a responsibility to put politics aside and fully consider, debate, and reach compromise on legislative issues that will affect all Americans. Therefore, I support the 60-vote threshold for all Senate actions. Debate on bills should be a bipartisan process that takes into account the views of all Americans, not just those of one political party."

Joe Manchin is annoying most of the time but he doesn't pretend he's some bad ass revolutionary legislator. He doesn't show up at the Senate wearing a "dangerous creature" shirt or prominently display a “fuck off" ring in an Instagram photo like he'd just gotten engaged.

The late Rep. John Lewis was willing to make “good trouble" in the ongoing battle for voting rights. Sinema isn't willing to create a minor inconvenience to the Senate rules that stand in the way of justice.


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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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