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Sanders backs Arizona Democrats’ censure of Sinema


Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday blessed the Arizona Democratic Party’s censure of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema after she opposed a recent effort to change Senate rules to pass voting rights legislation.

Asked if he thought the rebuke Saturday from the state party’s executive board was appropriate, Sanders responded in the affirmative.

“Absolutely it was,” Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Sinema was one of two members of the Democratic caucus to vote against changing the Senate filibuster to create a carve-out to its supermajority requirement for voting rights bills. She and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voted alongside all Senate Republicans to defeat the proposal.

Sanders said that the pair are effectively allowing the GOP to restrict voting access in a number of states across the country.

“It is so important that we protect American democracy,” Sanders said. “They undermined that effort. I think what the Arizona Democrats did was exactly right.”

Sanders echoed those comments almost verbatim on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“That was a terrible, terrible vote, and I think what the Arizona Democratic Party did was exactly right,” he said.

Sinema has said she supports the underlying voting rights legislation that was at issue, but has been adamant that she believed it would be ruinous to alter the filibuster in order to do pass such bills.

Her stance has drawn widespread fire from Democrats across the country, and has raised the prospect of a primary challenge as big-money donors have threatened to cut off their support to Sinema.

Though neither Sinema nor Manchin are up for reelection this cycle, Sanders signaled an interest in backing progressive-minded challengers.

“If there were strong candidates in those states who were prepared to stand up for working families, who understand that the Democratic Party has got to be the party of working people, taking on big money interests, if those candidates were there in Arizona and West Virginia, yes, I would be happy to support them,” he said.

Sanders’ volley was considerably stronger than Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who opted to sidestep a question about the censure by contrasting Democrats’ efforts to enhance voting rights against GOP opposition.

“What I hope your viewers get about what happened this last week in the Senate is that all 50 Democrats — including Senators Manchin and Sinema — voted for the John Lewis Voting Rights Restoration Act and for the Freedom to Vote Act, which would tackle this problem of voter suppression and voter subversion around the country,” Coons said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“And none of the 50 Republicans in the Senate joined us.”

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