Democrat Kyrsten Sinema Strongly Opposes Efforts to Eliminate Senate Filibuster

A spokesperson for Democratic Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema has said that she is "against eliminating the filibuster, and she is not open to changing her mind about eliminating the filibuster."

While at least one other Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, shares her viewpoint, their opposition is part of an ongoing debate of whether Democrats should change Senate rules in order to achieve newly seated President Joe Biden's ambitious agenda, especially on issues like climate change, voting rights and firearms regulation.

As it stands, the filibuster requires a minimum of 60 Senate members to agree to end a debate on many matters before matters move to a vote. Rules regarding the filibuster have changed over the years, but Democrats fear that if it stays in place, the Senate's slim Republican minority may use it to stop votes on any Democratic legislation, the same way that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell used it during the first two years of former Democratic President Barack Obama's presidency.

Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana has said that he supports keeping the filibuster, but added that he would support eliminating it if Republicans use it to obstruct Democratic legislation.

Other Democratic congress members have been more forthright in their desire to eliminate it, however.

"Don't let Republicans' calls for bipartisanship fool you. When they were in power, they used every tool imaginable to pass their agenda. We must do the same. Abolish the filibuster, and let's pass bold, progressive legislation to deliver on our promises," Democratic Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar wrote in a tweet on Monday.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who regularly caucuses with Democrats and has twice-run as a Democratic presidential candidate, supported eliminating the filibuster.

"We have an enormous agenda, and we have got to move as quickly as we can, and in my view, we've got to use all of the tools that are available," he said.

Krysten Sinema against opposes eliminating filibuster Senate
Democratic Senator Krysten Sinema of Arizona has said through a spokesperson that she is “against eliminating the filibuster, and she is not open to changing her mind about eliminating the filibuster.” In this February 4, 2020 photo, Sinema applauds former President Donald Trump's State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives, the night before the U.S. Senate was set to vote in his impeachment trial. Mario Tama/Getty

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has shown that he's willing to obstruct Biden's progress over the filibuster by telling Democratic Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer that he'd refuse to finalize a power-sharing agreement in the Senate unless Schumer agreed to preserve the filibuster during the legislative term.

As a result, the Senate leaders haven't finalized power-sharing agreements, leaving most of Biden's cabinet members unapproved and keeping numerous Senate committees within Republican control. Until that agreement is in place, votes on big-ticket Democratic legislation won't be able to occur.

"Mitch McConnell would like nothing more than for Democrats to fail to reform the filibuster because, first of all, it will allow him to block most of what Biden wants to do over the next two years," Adam Jentleson, former deputy chief of staff to former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, told Rolling Stone. "And it will increase Republicans' chances of taking back the majority in 2022 and putting him back in the majority-leader spot."

Jentleson added that Democrats should expect that a future Republican majority in the Senate could use an eliminated filibuster to railroad Republican legislation through the chamber.

Newsweek contacted Sinema's office for comment.