Arizona Democratic Party censures Sinema as party reels from string of defeats

The Arizona Democratic Party executive board voted on Saturday to censure Sen. Kyrsten Sinema over her decision to join her Republican colleagues in blocking a Democratic attempt to change Senate filibuster rules to pass voting rights legislation.

The board said the “ramifications of failing to pass federal legislation” that protects voting rights “are too large and far-reaching,” to ignore.

“While we take no pleasure in this announcement, the ADP Executive Board has decided to formally censure Senator Sinema as a result of her failure to do whatever it takes to ensure the health of our democracy,” Arizona Democratic Party Chair Raquel Teran said in a statement. 

Ms. Sinema, a moderate Democrat, underscored her support for passing voting rights legislation, including the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, in a floor speech earlier this month.

But she remained staunchly opposed to changing the 60 vote threshold required to end debate and pass most measures in the Senate, which she said protects against “wild reversals in federal policy.”

“American politics are cyclical and the granting of power in Washington, D.C. is exchanged regularly by the voters from one party to another,” she said. “This shift of power back and forth means the Senate’s 60-vote threshold has proved maddening to members of both political parties in recent years – viewed either as a weapon of obstruction, or a safety net to save the country from radical policies, depending on whether you serve in the majority or the minority.”

Ms. Sinema was joined in blocking the rule change by fellow moderate Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia.

She stood by her decision in the wake of the censure.

“During three terms in the U.S. House, and now in the Senate, Kyrsten has always promised Arizonans she would be an independent voice for the state — not for either political party,” a Ms. Sinema’s office said Saturday. “She’s delivered for Arizonans and has always been honest about where she stands.”

The Arizona Democratic Party said it is a “diverse coalition with plenty of room for policy disagreements” but that they have been “crystal clear” regarding the “urgency to protect voting rights.”

In the censure resolution passed Saturday, The Arizona Democratic Party pledged to “watch Senator Sinema’s votes in the coming weeks,” and said it will “go officially on the record” to give Ms. Sinema a vote of “no confidence” if she does not support key Democratic measures or “if she continues to delay, disruption, or votes to gut the Reconciliation Package of its necessary funding.”

Senate Democrats’ failure to overhaul Senate rules and pass the sweeping voting legislation capped a series of legislative defeats for President Biden during his first year in office.

Mr. Biden’s marquee $1.75 social welfare spending bill all but failed over objections from Mr. Manchin last month.

Democrats have gone back to the drawing board as the president enters his second year in office, and the president has proposed breaking the sweeping bill into “chunks” to get it over the finish line.

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