Kyrsten Sinema blames Democrats for Republican opposition to voting rights legislation

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 27: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for a vote October 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. Democrats are continuing internal negotiations about the Biden administration's social policy spending bill.
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 27: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for a vote October 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. Democrats are continuing internal negotiations about the Biden administration's social policy spending bill. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), an out bisexual who lists her religious affiliation as “none” and refused to be sworn into office on a Bible, hung a cross around her neck to solemnly announce that she would be unable to support legislation that she claims to like.

She’s blaming Democrats for Republicans’ opposition to the bill, saying that party leaders refused to “genuinely discuss” with Republicans ways to stop Republican attempts to prevent minority groups from voting. The voters who are being disenfranchised have historically voted for Democrats; Republicans are unlikely to support a bill that helps people vote against them.

Related: Jen Psaki skewers rightwingers who thought Biden’s speech on voting rights was “offensive”

Two bills currently sit in the Senate awaiting action, but are unable to cross the 60 votes necessary to take a vote on the issue. Republicans are filibustering the legislation and in a speech this week, President Joe Biden pointed out that they were the roadblock.

While a bill only requires 51 votes to pass, a procedural maneuver can require 60 votes to advance the bill to an actual vote. With the chamber evenly divided 50-50 between the parties, reaching 60 votes during a time of hyper-partisanship (and with Donald Trump leading the GOP by default) is almost an impossibility.

Biden compared current attempts by Republicans across the nation to restrict voting rights – and blatantly admitting they were doing it to suppress votes from minority groups – to the Civil War era and the Reconstruction period that followed. Biden demanded that lawmakers choose whether they will “be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis,” the two men who led America and the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Biden called for the filibuster to be removed in order to pass the critical bills, but Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) have refused to entertain the idea of relegating the Civil War-era procedural maneuver to the dustbin of history. It has primarily been used to prevent the passage of civil rights legislation and is currently being used to also block landmark LGBTQ civil rights legislation: the Equality Act.

The duo has essentially killed most of Biden’s domestic agenda, despite huge support from their own constituents for Biden’s policies and goals.

In a voice that trembled and sounded like she was on the verge of tears, Sinema played it up for the cameras on the Senate floor. She really really supports the voting rights legislation, she promised, and if it weren’t for those darn Democrats, she’d be voting for it. Instead, she insinuated, upholding the filibuster is more important and voting rights laws would pass if Democrats could have just convinced Republicans to vote for the bill.

“I share the disappointment of many that we’ve not found more support on the other side of the aisle for legislative responses to state-level voting restrictions,” Sinema intoned. “I wish that were not the case, just as I wish there had been a more serious effort on the part of Democratic Party leaders to sit down with the other party and genuinely discuss how to reforge common ground on these issues.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently told party members that their re-election position was simply to say that Democrats were bad and not spell out their own thoughts on any issues. The party priority is simply to oppose Democrats’ ideas and positions.

Sinema touted her support for Americans’ right to vote and suggested that “significant resources” be used to “better organize and stop efforts to restrict access to the ballot box.”

When organizers confronted Sinema on her support for the filibuster and her de facto block on Democratic priorities, she claimed she was being attacked. Activists followed Sinema through a college campus and into a bathroom where she was trying to hide from them to ask her questions since she has refused to meet with any of the organizers in her state that she thinks should be better funded.

And while she decries the attempts by Republicans to prevent access to the voting booth, and swears that she supports the bills, she then turns around and slams them, saying they are only a band-aid for the real problem: partisanship.

“These bills help treat the symptoms of the disease, but they do not fully address the disease itself,” she bemoaned. “And while I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country.”

Billionaire Republican investor Kenneth G. Langone said he donated to Manchin for the first time because he supports “candidates who are willing to stand tall on principle, even when it means defying their own party or the press.” Stanley S. Hubbard, another billionaire Republican, started donating to Sinema in September, citing her and Manchin’s work on stifling the Democratic agenda.

“Those are two good people – Manchin and Sinema – and I think we need more of those in the Democratic Party,” he said.

Many other conservative donors have given to the senators, including those from the finance, oil and gas, and pharmaceutical industries.

Manchin has received checks from Donald Trump supporters like banker Andrew Beal and lobbyist and investor Roy W. Bailey. Sinema has raked in donations from Goldman Sachs President John Waldron, as well as other investors from Goldman Sachs and elsewhere.

These donations are unique because they are mostly coming from people who have never before donated to Manchin or Sinema and are based on their efforts to obstruct specific legislation – like the president’s infrastructure initiatives, voting rights legislation, and the Equality Act.

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