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Sinema Won't Give on Filibuster

Biden's voting rights push runs into Arizona Democrat's opposition to altering the rule
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2022 3:34 PM CST
Biden's Voting Rights Push Runs Into Sinema
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, speaks Thursday on the floor of the US Senate.   (Senate Television via AP)

(Newser) – Before President Biden could arrive at the Capitol on Thursday to lobby Senate Democrats on changing the filibuster rule and passing voting rights legislation, one of them made clear she'd be no help. Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema delivered the news in a floor speech, the New York Times reports, declaring her support for the legislation but opposition to Democrats alone messing with the filibuster, which she said would be divisive. "While I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country," Sinema told the Senate.

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That would seem to be the end of the road for the legislation in the Senate, after it was passed by the House and Biden delivered a speech Tuesday in Atlanta calling for protections against voter suppression. The president urged the Senate to start with altering the rules so that Democrats could pass the legislation on their own; Republicans are blocking it from reaching a debate or vote. The House combined the bills Thursday, and the Democratic majority pushed it through to the Senate, 220-203, to try to force action on it and the rule.

Biden still had lunch at the Capitol, per CNN. Sinema and West Virginia Sen Joe Manchin, who also wants to leave the filibuster intact, attended the lunch but would not take questions afterward. Manchin also has given Biden no hope for a change of heart on the filibuster. After stressing the importance of voting rights legislation on Tuesday, Biden expressed little confidence when he emerged from the Capitol meeting. "I hope we can get this done," Biden told reporters. "The honest-to-God answer is, I don't know that we can get this done." Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer still plans a Senate vote on the rule early next week, per the Washington Post. (Read more Kyrsten Sinema stories.)

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