“It is not only a bad idea, it upsets the constitutional design and it disservices the country” — 2005 speech by then-Sen. Joe Biden about ending the Senate filibuster rule.
That was when the Senate also was split 50-50, but the vice president who could break a tie was a Republican instead of a Democrat. Now, the president has different ideas, to change if not kill the rule.
Two Democratic senators have stood in the way of killing the filibuster, Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin. But they are facing strong pressure from their party to end a rule tied to bipartisanship, allowing Congress to pass legislation without a single vote from the opposition party instead of the 60 votes needed now. Bills on three major issues — voting procedures, immigration and gun control, have come from the Democratic-controlled House but lack enough support in the Senate.
She also stood against a proposal for a $15 minimum wage, something many observers predicted would provide too much shock to the economy. Arizona, on the other hand, has raised the wage gradually, now up to $12.15.
In an interview, Sinema said the answer to “a place that’s broken and not working” is not to “erode the rules.” “I think the solution is for senators to change their behavior and begin to work together, which is what the country wants us to do.”
Sinema was the first Democrat elected to the Senate from Arizona in 30 years. And state voters are about a third independent with a third each from the major parties. She obviously is a smart politician, but at the same time many of her constituents believe she is doing the right thing.
Meanwhile, a potential primary opponent for her, state Sen. Martin Quezada, told the Wall Street Journal that although she campaigned as a moderate, he expected her to be more progressive once elected. What an interesting concept, a politician who acts the way she talked. That’s something many Pinal County residents, including some Republicans, no doubt appreciate.
— Donovan Kramer Jr.