Citing Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's obstruction of her own party's pro-democracy agenda, a pair of progressive U.S. lawmakers said Sunday that they support the Arizona Democratic Party's decision to censure the senator who helped stymie voting rights legislation.
Citing her failure to "do whatever it takes to ensure the health of our democracy," the Arizona Democratic Party (ADP) central committee on Saturday voted to formally censure Sinema.
The ADP rebuke came after Sinema voted last week — along with all 50 Republican senators and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. — to uphold the filibuster and effectively torpedo her own party's popular voting rights legislation, the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act.
Asked about the move during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday morning, Sen. Bernie Sanders said, "I think it's exactly right."
"Look, on the issue of voting rights ... right now you have a Republican Party under Trump's leadership that is perpetuating this 'Big Lie' that Trump actually won the election," Sanders said. "You have 19 Republican states that are moving very aggressively into voter suppression, into extreme gerrymandering; some of these states are doing away with the powers of independent election officials."
"They are moving in a very, very anti-democratic way, and it was absolutely imperative that we change the rules so we can pass strong voting rights legislation," Sanders added. "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."
Appearing on MSNBC, Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., said: "If you are a Democrat and you can't uphold the fundamental right to vote for all citizens ... then there's a problem. And I think what the Arizona state party is saying is that Kyrsten Sinema no longer reflects our values."
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Following its decision to censure Sinema, ADP chair Raquel Terán said in a statement that "the Arizona Democratic Party is a diverse coalition with plenty of room for policy disagreements, however on the matter of the filibuster and the urgency to protect voting rights, we have been crystal clear."
"In the choice between an archaic legislative norm and protecting Arizonans' right to vote, we choose the latter, and we always will," Terán continued. "The ramifications of failing to pass federal legislation that protects their right to vote are too large and far-reaching."
Addressing Sinema's prospects going forward, Khanna said: "I don't think there's any chance she wins a Democratic primary. Whether it's Ruben Gallego or someone else, there are a number of other people who I think would not just win against her in a Democratic primary, but would win decisively. ... I would be shocked if she was competitive in a Democratic primary in Arizona."
Gallego, a Democratic House member who is widely viewed as a potential 2024 primary challenger to the embattled senator, reacted to the ADP censure by saying Saturday that "any reservoir of goodwill that [Sinema] had is gone."
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