Liberal activist groups are pledging to fight Sen. Kyrsten Sinema‘s reelection bid if she does not capitulate on the filibuster.
No less than eight groups say they will sever ties to Ms. Sinema, Arizona Democrat, unless she votes to scrap the filibuster to pass President Biden’s rewrite of the nation’s election laws. Some of the groups, including the League of Conservation Voters and End Citizens United, made the ultimatum in a letter to Ms. Sinema.
“Our organizations have made the decision to only consider endorsements for senators in their next election who take all necessary measures to pass the key voting rights and pro-democracy reform provisions,” they wrote in the Wednesday letter. “Vocally supporting the right to vote without being fully committed to passing critical legislation into law will be insufficient to receive the endorsement of our organizations.”
Others promising political retribution against Ms. Sinema are NARAL Pro-Choice America and EMILY’s List, two of the country’s largest pro-choice groups. Emily’s List, which is dedicated to electing pro-choice women to office, also argued that protecting abortion was impossible as long as the filibuster remained in place.
“Electing Democratic pro-choice women is not possible without free and fair elections,” a spokesman for Emily’s List said in a statement.
Groups like EMILY’s List and League of Conservation Voters heavily underwrote Ms. Sinema‘s 2018 Senate campaign. That cycle, EMILY’s List spent more than $3.7 million to elect Ms. Sinema, while the League spent about $1.7 million.
SEE ALSO: Schumer admits filibuster gambit poised for defeat
The money likely made a significant impact in the race, which Ms. Sinema only won by roughly 55,000 votes.
Still, Ms. Sinema was unfazed by the intimidation tactics.
“While the Senate’s 60-vote threshold to end debate on legislation has been used repeatedly to protect against wild swings in federal policy, including in the area of protecting women’s health care, I said on the Senate floor last week that different people of good faith can have honest disagreements about policy and strategy,” she said.
She is not up for reelection until 2024.
The threats come as Senate Democrats are poised to take a likely doomed vote on a proposal by Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer to remake the filibuster, a longstanding rule that requires 60 votes for most bills to survive in the 100-member chamber.
Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat, wants lawmakers to mount an old-fashioned “talking filibuster” when opposing a bill.
Currently, lawmakers are allowed to merely object to ending debate, forcing leaders to round up the 60 votes to keep the legislation alive. Under Mr. Schumer’s proposal, senators would have to speak continuously in objection to a piece of legislation. Once the speechmaking is exhausted, the legislation would be eligible to pass with a simple majority vote.
“The American people deserve to see their senators go on record,” said Mr. Schumer. “Indeed, that may be the only way to make progress on this issue for now: for the public to see where each of us in this chamber stands.”
Ms. Sinema is expected to oppose the change to the chagrin of liberal groups. While she has expressed support for the White House’s voting legislation, she said it should not come at the expense of the filibuster.
“Eliminating the 60-vote threshold will simply guarantee that we lose a critical tool that we need to safeguard our democracy,” Ms. Sinema said. “I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country.”
Since any change to the filibuster requires the support of all 50 Senate Democrats, Ms. Sinema‘s opposition all but kills the idea.
Progressives are promising to make the decision politically painful.
“If Sen. Sinema can not support a path forward for the passage of this legislation, we believe she undermines the foundations of our democracy, her own path to victory and also the mission of EMILY’s List, and we will be unable to endorse her moving forward,” the group said.