The executive committee of the Arizona Democratic Party (ADP) formally censured U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema over her vote against changing rules in the chamber to steer through voting rights legislation. Sinema was one of two Democratic senators who joined with Republicans to vote against lowering the Senate’s 60-vote threshold to 50 so that the Senate could pass voting rights bill without bipartisan support. As a result, Bernie Sanders said it was “absolutely appropriate” that Sinema be censured.
I would certainly agree. Actually, a far more appropriate punishment be just to kick her out of the Democratic Party entirely. But that would pose a very big problem. Sinema (and her Democratic ally, Joe Manchin from West Virginia) are essential to keep the Democratic Party majority in the Senate. The two of them know this, and it gives them tremendous power. If they don’t vote for programs advanced by the Democrats, then the Democrats lose. And if the Democrats were to boot them from the party as punishment, the Republicans would hold the majority.
So what can be done? Sinema is not up for re-election until 2024. Manchin also isn’t up for re-election until 2024. Now, it’s possible that the Democrats might pick up three or more Senate seats in 2022, making it possible for them to boot Sinema and Manchin from the fold. But don’t count on it. In fact, the Arizona Democrats are afraid that Sinema is causing enough disruption to make re-election of Mark Kelley (her Arizona Senate compatriot) more difficult in 2022.
So the likelihood is that Sinema and Manchin will continue to have power into the future. Unless, of course, the Republicans take the majority, or the Democrats take a larger majority. The Sinema/Manchin power really depends on the even-steven situation continuing in the Senate. And let’s not forget that the president’s party normally loses seats in mid-term elections, which is what 2022 is.