Arizona Democrats censure Kyrsten Sinema over voting rights legislation

Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-AZ, speaks during a Senate Finance Committee hearing in October. Leaders in the Arizona Democratic Party decided Saturday to censure Sinema after she sided with Republicans this week in voting against changing Senate filibuster rules to pass voting rights legislation. File Photo by Mandel Ngan/UPI

Jan. 23 (UPI) — Leaders in the Arizona Democratic Party decided Saturday to censure U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema after she sided with Republicans this week in voting against a change in Senate filibuster rules to pass voting rights legislation.

Raquel Teran, chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, said in a statement that the censure — a formal expression of condemnation — was levied “as a result of her failure to do whatever it takes to ensure the health of our democracy.”

“I want to be clear, the Arizona Democratic Party is a diverse coalition with plenty of room for policy disagreements, however on the matter of the filibuster and the urgency to protect voting rights, we have been crystal clear,” Teran said. “In the choice between an archaic legislative norm and protecting Arizonan’s right to vote, we choose the latter, and we always will.”

Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) were the only two Democrats to vote Wednesday against making changes to the Senate filibuster, a rule which requires 60 votes rather than a simple majority for legislation to pass through the upper chamber.

After the filibuster vote, Republicans successfully blocked the passage of two bills in the Senate pushed by Democrats who view them as necessary for safeguarding voting rights in the country.

The loss on the filibuster and the voting rights bills were a blow to top Democrats including President Joe Biden, who had supported the change to the filibuster ahead of two votes on voting rights legislation: the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Senate Republicans had already stopped the passage of voting rights bills last year.

Earlier this month, Sinema had said that she supports the voting rights legislation but opposed changes to the filibuster — arguing that debate over the filibuster was furthering political divisions in the country.

“Demands to eliminate this threshold (from whichever party holds the fleeting majority) amount to a group of people separated on two sides of a canyon, shouting to their colleagues that the solution to their shared challenges is to make that rift both wider and deeper,” Sinema said.

In her statement, Teran noted that Arizona Republicans pushed for a “sham audit” of the 2020 presidential election vote after false claims of voter fraud. Republican states across the country have since pushed for measures that Democrats view as restricting the ability to vote.

“Arizona Republicans are already trying to push restrictive legislation to eliminate our popular and long-standing vote-by-mail system, jail election workers, and put Cyber Ninjas in charge of our elections,” Teran said. “But this is not just about Arizona. Last year, Republicans in 19 states passed 33 different laws that will make it harder for people to vote.”


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