- Civil rights groups skewered Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for opposing changing the Senate filibuster rules.
- "History will remember Senator Sinema unkindly," said Martin Luther King III.
- A Georgia-based group said Sinema "cried crocodile tears" while Americans were losing their rights.
Civil rights leaders and voting rights groups lit into Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for her decision to reject President Biden's push to weaken the Senate's filibuster in order to pass the party's major voting rights package.
"History will remember Senator Sinema unkindly. While Sen. Sinema remains stubborn in her 'optimism,' Black and Brown Americans are losing their right to vote," Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of the civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., said in a statement. "She's siding with the legacy of Bull Connor and George Wallace instead of the legacy of my father and all those who fought to make real our democracy."
Sinema said on the Senate floor that changing the 60-vote threshold for most legislation would "worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country." The Arizona Democrat reiterated her support for her party's two biggest voting rights bills, but her opposition to changing the filibuster almost certainly guarantees that both pieces of legislation will fail.
Voto Latino, a nonprofit focused on encouraging young Hispanic voters, said that Sinema was "incredibly naive" to think that there would be bipartisan support for federal voting rights legislation. Just one Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, supports legislation named after the late Congressman John Lewis that would restore parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Andrea Waters King, another of Martin Luther King Jr.'s children and the president of the Drum Major Institute, said: "We'll be in Phoenix this weekend to remind Senator Sinema what Dr. King once said: 'The time is always right to do what is right.'"
One of the Georgia-based voting groups that boycotted Biden's Tuesday voting rights speech in Atlanta also came out swinging over Sinema's comments.
"While Senator Sinema cries crocodile tears on the Senate floor, the rights of Americans are being actively attacked," Nsé Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project, said in a statement. "Her plea for bipartisanship might have more credibility if a single Republican had stepped forward to defend democracy. There already is a 'sustained, robust effort' to defend American democracy. It's the one that put Senators Warnock and Ossoff into office and created the political space that she so cynically exploits."
President Joe Biden attended Senate Democrats' caucus meeting on Thursday afternoon as the party tries to find a way forward to pass voting rights legislation before its self-imposed deadline of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday.
"I hope we can get this done. But the honest to God answer is I don't know whether we can get this done," Biden told reporters after the meeting.
During the meeting, another member of the Arizona delegation, Rep. Ruben Gallego, took to the House floor to rebut Sinema's remarks.
"Today the House showed where it stands. We won't shrink from protecting our democracy and the voting rights of all Americans. It's past time for the U.S. Senate and Senator Sinema to do the same," he said.