Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema gave a floor speech in the Senate Thursday that has been unequaled in cringeworthiness since Sen. Susan Collins stood there and told the nation that she was going to vote for Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court because he deeply revered precedent, especially when it came to abortion rights. We all know how that turned out.
Sinema’s floor remarks were a stab in the back to President Joe Biden (and all her Democratic colleagues) moments before Biden was scheduled to meet with her. She insisted that she really does support the Freedom to Vote and John Lewis Voting Rights bills, but that they “treat the symptoms of the disease, but they do not fully address the diseases and while I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division affecting our country.” Meaning she would not help Republicans break the filibuster in order to pass these bills she supports. Because both sides. Literally. She both-sides-ed Jan. 6 and the Big Lie. She doubled down on that, literally blaming Democratic leadership for not working harder to get Republicans to work with them.
“I wish there had been a more serious effort on the part of Democratic Party lines to sit down with the other party and genuinely discuss how to reforge common ground on these issues,” she said. Never mind that the Freedom to Vote Act was entirely rewritten by Joe Manchin to get Republicans on board and every single one of them refused. And when Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tried to bring the bill to the floor, Republicans filibustered the motion to proceed to it—they didn’t even allow the Senate to debate it.
She might as well have announced her defection to the Republicans in that speech, because in practicality that’s what she did. She’s supporting Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s veto of these bills and everything else in Biden’s legislative agenda, essentially. She’s trying to call it principle about the sanctity of the filibuster, but she had no problem voting just last month to break the filibuster to raise the debt ceiling. Which makes her pretty much a Republican. She’s got the lying and the trolling down pat.
Really, what Gabe Ortiz tweeted:
This, plus Thursday’s announcement by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) that he has COVID and the absence of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to an undisclosed illness means that the plan to expedite the voting rights bills on the Senate floor will have to be delayed, at the least. Schumer can still force a debate on the bills through the procedure Democrats crafted, but it can’t succeed.
All that said, we need a palate cleanser after Sinema. Here is Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego speaking on the House floor immediately following Sinema’s Senate speech.
On January 6 we witnessed a violent coup attempt in our Capitol fueled by the Big Lie. Our country continues to face a slow-moving coup in the form of voter suppression. I’ve seen first hand in my home state of Arizona voter suppression laws targeting people of color and a state senate that would rather waste taxpayer money on a sham audit instead of upholding our most sacred democratic right, the right to vote.
The Freedom to Vote/John Lewis Voting Rights Act is critical to protecting the vote in my state and states across the country where restrictive laws are being put into place to strip people of the right to vote. Arizona will stand strong together this weekend. Thousands will gather this Saturday in Phoenix for democracy and voting rights. Passing this bill today answers their call by guaranteeing access to democracy to every Arizonan.
Today, the House showed where it stands. We won’t shrink from protecting our democracy and the voting rights of all Americans. It’s past time for the U.S Senate, and Senator Sinema to do the same.
Thank you, Gallego. That kind of honesty and clarity is what Arizona—not to mention the nation—needs from its elected officials.