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Sinema and Manchin high-five over supporting the filibuster at World Economic Forum in Davos

Charles R. Davis   

Sinema and Manchin high-five over supporting the filibuster at World Economic Forum in Davos
  • Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin high-fived over their support for the filibuster on Tuesday.
  • The pair were speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

That the United States held a free and fair election in 2022 is evidence that Kyrsten Sinema was right to support a rule that prevents most legislation from passing the Senate without a 60-vote supermajority, or so the newly independent senator from Arizona argued while speaking in Davos on Tuesday.

Sinema, a former Green Party activist turned centrist, left the Democratic Party following last year's vote. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, she attributed the move to her opposition to the two-party system and extremism on the left and right.

Collaboration between opposing political forces, she suggested, is also what motivates her support for the filibuster, which since 1975 has required three-fifths of the Senate chamber to support ending a floor debate in order to proceed to a vote on most major legislation — a fact that stymied efforts by President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats to pass a voting-rights bill in the last session.

Biden himself called for filibuster reform in order to pass the voting-rights package, which would have required states to speed up the pace of counting mail-in ballots, require automatic voter registration for those who obtain a driver's license, and other measures intended to protect election workers from harassment.

"As we all know," Sinema, flanked by West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, said Tuesday, "the filibuster was not eliminated. Joe and I were not interested in sacrificing that important guardrail for the institution."

Supporters of the filibuster maintain that it encourages bipartisanship, with both parties typically having to work together in order to reach that 60-vote threshold. Opponents argue that it actually contributes to the dysfunction of Congress, preventing the winners of an election from pursuing much of their agenda.

Sinema, for her part, argued that the last election — held after the failure to pass voting legislation — showed that the two senators were right for supporting the Senate status quo.

"We had a free and fair election, so one could posit that the push by one political party to eliminate an important guardrail in an institution in our country may have been premature or overreaching in order to get the short-term victories they wanted," Sinema said.

At the end of her remarks, Manchin chimed in: "We still don't agree on getting rid of the filibuster."

"That's correct," Sinema responded. The two then high-fived.