Laurie Roberts, Arizona Republic Published 7:40 a.m. MT May 30, 2021 | Updated 5:23 p.m. MT May 30, 2021
OPINION: Friday’s vote on a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection showed us two things about Sen. Kyrsten Sinema: She got played by Republicans and she’s no John McCain.
It’s now been two days since Sen. Kyrsten Sinema took a walk when it came time to take a stand on investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection and two things are now clear.
1. Sinema was played for a fool by Senate Republicans.
2. Sinema is nothing like her “hero”, the late Sen. John McCain.
Sinema fancies herself the inheritor of McCain’s maverick status, a senator willing to break with her party and work across the aisle for the good of the country.
Bipartisanship is her brand so it wasn’t surprising when she announced she would not budge on ending the filibuster and allowing her party’s liberal proposals to flow forth with Republicans powerless to stop them.
“When you have a place that’s broken and not working, and many would say that’s the Senate today, I don’t think the solution is to erode the rules,” she told the Wall Street Journal in April. “I think the solution is for senators to change their behavior and begin to work together, which is what the country wants us to do.”
It’s a noble sentiment and sadly, a naïve one, as Sinema should now realize. It takes two to tango and Republicans in the Senate on Friday sent a message, loud and clear, that they have no intention of putting on their dancing shoes.
Friday’s vote was a test and Republicans flunked
Friday’s vote on establishing a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection — to examine the factors that led American citizens to storm the U.S. Capitol and beat police officers — should have been 100-0.
It was the test of Republicans’ willingness to come to the table and both Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., begged them to do so.
“A bipartisan commission to investigate the events of that day has passed the House of Representatives with a bipartisan vote and is a critical step to ensuring our nation never has to endure an attack at the hands of our countrymen again,” they said in a joint statement, issued a few days before the vote. “We implore our Senate Republican colleagues to work with us to find a path forward on a commission to examine the events of January 6th.”
And when they didn’t?
Sinema was a no-show in the Senate on Friday. She didn’t even bother to register a vote for the commission she supported.
Sinema owes Arizona an explanation but so far, all we’ve gotten are crickets. (Maybe she’s wearing that “F–k off” ring again?)
Her spokeswoman, Hannah Hurley, has declined to explain why Sinema skipped the vote. She didn’t return my call and all she would say to The Arizona Republic’s Yvonne Wingett Sanchez was that Sinema “will be entering into the Congressional record that she would’ve voted yes.”
What would McCain have done?
Such bold and decisive leadership.
“With Senator McCain’s example lighting the way, and with the trust of the people of Arizona shaping my service, I recommit to ignoring political games and focus on upholding Arizona values,” she told the chamber in July 2019.
Was he lighting Sinema’s way on Friday, I wonder?
Just 10 days after undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his brain in July 2017, the terminally ill senator got up and flew back to Washington to cast a vote on healthcare.
Granted, his vote was critical. It was the decisive vote that saved the Affordable Care Act, and Sinema’s vote was not. The Jan. 6 commission wouldn’t have passed even if she had been there.
But if that’s now the standard, then I suppose Sinema can make like a potted plant and skip votes on every key issue from now on. On the minimum wage. On immigration reform. On gun reform and voting rights and infrastructure and every other issue facing America.
That is, if she’s not willing to force Republicans to the bargaining table by threatening to reconsider her stance on the filibuster.
In a divided America, compromise is essential. There is, as McCain put it in his final floor speech on that July evening, “an obligation to work collaboratively.”
“The most revered members of this institution accepted the necessity of compromise in order to make incremental progress on solving America’s problems and to defend her from her adversaries,” he noted.
But if Republicans refuse to budge on investigating insurrection, then really, they have no interest in compromising on …
Then again, as it now stands, with Sinema in their pocket, they don’t have to.
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