Kyrsten Sinema's Filibuster Defense Slammed by Critics: 'Drivel'

Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has faced a wave of criticism online following an article published on Monday where she defended the Senate filibuster and warned about the dangers of abolishing it.

Sinema penned an op-ed for The Washington Post headlined "We have more to lose than gain by ending the filibuster," and argued that abolishing the parliamentary procedure could lead to key pieces of progressive legislation being reversed.

But many social media users were not impressed by Sinema's argument and took to Twitter to criticize the article and point out what they believed the senator had gotten wrong.

In the op-ed, Sinema wrote: "To those who want to eliminate the legislative filibuster to expand health-care access or retirement benefits: Would it be good for our country if we did, only to later see that legislation replaced by legislation dividing Medicaid into block grants, slashing earned Social Security and Medicare benefits, or defunding women's reproductive health services?"

Sinema also pointed to other pieces of proposed legislation that she said could later be threatened by abolishing the filibuster, such as the voting reform measures in the For the People Act.

Steven Dennis, Bloomberg Senate reporter, took issue with this framing.

"Kyrsten Sinema's op-ed seems to forget that Medicare, Medicaid and other spending programs can be completely eliminated with 50+VP via budget reconciliation," tweeted Dennis, referring to the process that allows the Senate to pass legislation without reaching the usual 60-vote majority. Senate rules limit how often this method can be used.

Seth Masket, political scientist at the University of Denver, put it more simply, writing: "Sinema: What's the point in passing laws if some future Congress might pass different laws?"

Sinema: What's the point in passing laws if some future Congress might pass different laws? https://t.co/VOzFxXQ5xR

— Seth Masket (@smotus) June 22, 2021

Ezra Klein, columnist at The New York Times, also took issue with the claim that ending the filibuster would lead to "ricocheting legislation." He argued that it largely isn't true but when it is, it can be "healthy."

"There's more to this argument, but at base, it's built on a mistrust of voters' intelligence and a rejection of elections as a method of holding politicians accountable," wrote Klein.

"That Sinema is using it to help the GOP block bills to strengthen elections is, thus fitting."

Omari Hardy, a Democrat serving in the Florida state legislature, said Sinema "spouts this drivel to distract us."

"She is a garden variety political coward, but she wants us to believe that she has rocks for brains because stupidity is forgivable and cowardice is not," he said.

David Weissman, a self-described former Trump supporter who has campaigned to have Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene expelled from Congress, called for the filibuster to be abolished.

"Has anyone told Kyrsten Sinema that the Senate Minority having more power than the Senate Majority is not how Democracies work? Abolish the filibuster, now," Weissman wrote on Twitter.

Former Star Trek star and campaigner George Takei also weighed in, tweeting: "Don't believe that OpEd by Sen. Sinema. She's trying to punch above her weight in the Senate and pretend she's the new John McCain. Senator Sinema, you're no John McCain."

John McCain served as Arizona senator until he died in 2018.

Adam Jentleson, author of Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy, pointed to the views of the Framers of the U.S. Constitution in his criticism of Sinema.

"[James] Madison zeroed in on the principle that if the minority were allowed to wield a veto over the majority, 'the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed.' The reason? 'The power would be transferred to the minority,' he said. That's exactly what Sinema is doing," wrote Jentleson.

Newsweek has asked Senator Kyrsten Sinema for comment.

Kyrsten Sinema Applauds at 2020's SOTU
Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) applauds during the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives on February 04, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Sinema's op-ed defending the filibuster has received strong criticism. Mario Tama/Getty Images