- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 23, 2022

Sen. Bernard Sanders applauded Arizona Democrats who formally censured Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on Saturday for her vote to keep the filibuster, effectively preventing Democrats from passing their voting legislation.

“I think that’s exactly right. Look, on that issue of voting rights, this is something that’s almost different than anything else. What that is, is that right now you have a Republican Party under [former President Donald] Trump’s leadership that is perpetuating this ‘big lie’ that Trump actually won the election, and therefore, you have 19 Republican states that are moving very aggressively into voter suppression, into extreme gerrymandering,” Mr. Sanders, Vermont independent, said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

“All Republicans voted against us, two Democrats voted against us. That was a terrible, terrible vote. And I think what the Arizona Democratic Party did was exactly right,” he said.

The Arizona Democratic Party’s action, which is more symbolic than anything else, is part of pressure campaign by activists who had supported Ms. Sinema’s candidacy to flip the seat from red to blue in 2018.  Ms. Sinema previously was accosted in a bathroom late last year by protesters who questioned her loyalty to the party’s agenda on infrastructure and immigration.

Mr. Sanders refused to condemn the activists who confronted Ms. Sinema in the bathroom at the time. 

She and Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, were the only Democrats to vote Wednesday with the Republicans to keep the Senate’s 60-vote threshold to end a filibuster on most legislation.

Both moderate Democrats have been key players in President Biden’s $1.75 trillion social spending bill. Mr. Manchin last month indicated he would not support the bill due to the cost and its possible effect on inflation.  

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said Thursday that she discouraged such criticism aimed at Ms. Sinema and Mr. Manchin over their votes, telling reporters: “Well, I think people will say what they’re going to say.  I have not encouraged that.  In fact, I have discouraged it, because we are a giant kaleidoscope here, Democrats and Republicans.”

 “You never know who is going to be in the design of the next bill. And so we have to be respectful,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “But I’ve discouraged people from making comments about them. And you maybe hear it more than I do. I just don’t hear that much of it anymore.”

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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