PHOENIX — Arizona Senator Mark Kelly said Wednesday he will support proposed changes to filibuster rules.
The Senate opened debate Tuesday on two voting rights bills facing an uphill battle in the Senate. Both bills would need 60 votes to pass as the rules are currently constructed. With no Republicans supporting the bill, the White House has advocated for changing the Senate rules to bypass the filibuster and get the bills passed with a simple majority.
Standing in the way are Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who have signaled that they will not change the filibuster rules. Without their support, Democrats will be unable to pass the voting rights legislation.
Democrats say the bills are necessary because recent Supreme Court decisions have weakened some of the protections provided in the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was passed to eliminate racial discrimination in voting laws. In addition, Republicans in several states have passed laws that make it more difficult to cast a vote — and analysts say those state laws will have a greater impact on communities of color.
Senator Kelly released the following statement:
“My year in the Senate has shown me how dysfunctional this place can be, and how that prevents progress on issues that matter to Arizonans. We’re seeing that now, as voting rights legislation remains blocked while partisan politicians work to undermine Arizona’s successful vote-by-mail system and create more barriers to vote.
“As an astronaut and a combat veteran, I can tell you that if NASA or the Navy functioned like the United States Senate, we would never get the rocket off the launchpad and in combat we’d never complete the mission. Arizonans deserve a Senate that is more responsive to the challenges facing our country, which is why I’ve spoken with Arizonans and my Republican and Democratic colleagues about their views on what can be done to make this place work better. I’ve considered what rules changes would mean not just today, but years down the road, for both parties and all Arizonans.
“If campaign finance and voting rights reforms are blocked again this week, I will support the proposed changes to pass them with a majority vote. Protecting the vote-by-mail system used by a majority of Arizonans and getting dark money out of our elections is too important to let fall victim to Washington dysfunction.
“Whether the Senate fails or succeeds in passing this legislation, I will continue doing this job just as I promised Arizonans: delivering results by working with Republicans and Democrats to find common ground as we have on infrastructure, standing up to party politics, and staying focused on doing what is best for Arizona.”