Sen. Kyrsten Sinema advocated Monday for the upper chamber to reinstitute a 60-vote threshold to pass anything, including the confirmations of federal judges and executive branch nominees.
The moderate Arizona Democrat conceded that it’s an unpopular viewpoint among the vast majority of her Democratic colleagues, many of whom want to nix the filibuster and ram legislation through the chamber.
“Not only am I committed to the 60-vote threshold [to end a filibuster], I have an incredibly unpopular view: I actually think we should restore the 60-vote threshold for the areas in which it has been eliminated already,” Ms. Sinema said during a speech on bipartisanship at the University of Louisville McConnell Center in Kentucky.
Federal judges, including Supreme Court picks, and other presidential executive-office nominees only need a simple majority to be confirmed. Most everything else requires 60 votes.
Senate Democrats under former President Obama lowered the threshold from 60 to a simple majority for presidential nominees excluding those for the Supreme Court. Senate Republicans under President Trump then lowered the threshold for Supreme Court picks.
Invited to speak by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, Ms. Sinema made the case that requiring 60 votes forces both parties to come to the negotiating table and prevents Congress from rolling back laws each time a new party gains control.
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“Not everyone likes that because it would make it harder for us to confirm judges, and it would make it harder for us to confirm executive appointments in each administration,” she said. “But I believe that if we did restore it, we would actually see more of that middle ground in all parts of our governance, which is what I believe our forefathers intended.”
Ms. Sinema and Mr. McConnell criticized both President Biden and Mr. Trump for wanting to rid the Senate of its 60-vote requirements. Mr. McConnell lauded Ms. Sinema as “the most effective first-term senator I’ve seen in my time in the Senate” because, in part, of her willingness to rebuff Democrats’ demands under Mr. Biden to nix or alter the filibuster.
“That was not fashionable in the Democratic Party in the last year and a half,” Mr. McConnell said. “It took a hell of a lot of guts for Kyrsten Sinema to stand up and say I’m not going to break the institution in order to achieve short-term goals.”