Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is taking aim at a fellow Democrat’s opposition to scrapping the Senate’s legislative filibuster, which the GOP is using to stymie President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats from passing much of their agenda.
Ocasio-Cortez, the two-term congresswoman from New York City and the best known of the group of diverse and progressive House lawmakers known as “The Squad,” teed off Sunday against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who along with fellow moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia are opposed to the push by lawmakers from the left of their party the scrap the filibuster.
Ocasio-Cortez, in an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” fired back at Sinema, who wrote last week in an opinion piece in the Washington Post that if the filibuster was nixed, there would be “repeated radical reversals in federal policy, cementing uncertainty, deepening divisions and further eroding Americans’ confidence in our government.”
Ocasio-Cortez charged that Sinema’s comments were “essentially an argument of saying, ‘Well why do anything at all, in case something in the future may change it.’”
“Frankly, here’s the thing, is that Democratic legislation, once enacted, is popular. Republicans have tried to gut Social Security. They’ve tried to reverse the ACA,” Ocasio-Cortez emphasized. “They’ve tried to claw back on legislation that has passed by simple majorities in the Senate, and they haven’t been able to because Democratic policies are popular, and once they are enacted, they are very politically difficult to undo.”
And the congresswoman, who’s repeatedly argued to scrap the filibuster in recent months, highlighted that “our job is to legislate. Our job is to help people. Our job is to do as much as we can. And even if that’s the case, even if that is the case, wouldn’t it be better to get people health care and voting rights for three years instead of zero years, even if, even if you concede the point that I don’t even think is true in the first place.”
The filibuster, a longstanding Senate tradition requiring 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to advance a bill, effectively allows the minority party to block certain legislation. The Senate is currently evenly split 50/50 between the two parties, with the Democrats holding a razor-thin majority due to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. But the Democrats are nowhere close to obtaining the 60 votes needed to squash a filibuster.
Last week the Republicans – using the filibuster – successfully downed the congressional Democrats sweeping election and campaign finance reform bill, which was a top item on their agenda.