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Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) reiterated her long-standing support for the 60-vote Senate filibuster during a floor speech Thursday, dampening Democrats' hopes of reforming filibuster rules in order to pass voting rights legislation.

The backdrop: President Biden earlier this week threw his support behind changing filibuster rules in order pass voting rights legislation, and will attend the Senate Democratic caucus lunch later Thursday to make his case.

The big picture: Sinema has long made clear her opposition to abolishing the filibuster.

  • Sinema on Thursday said that while she supports efforts to amend voting rights legislation in the face of Republican efforts to curtail voting access, she would not support changes to the filibuster.

Driving the news: The House of Representatives passed a voting rights bill earlier Thursday that combines the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Amendment Act.

  • That package now advances to the Senate, where it faces an uphill battle amid a lack of Republican support. Democrats are considering changing the chamber's filibuster rules to pass the bill.

What they're saying: "Threats to American democracy are real. I share the concerns of civil rights advocates and others I've heard from in recent months about these state laws," Sinema said.

  • "I strongly support, and will continue to vote, for legislative responses to address these state laws, including the Freedom to Vote Act, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, that the Senate is currently considering."
  • "While I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country."
  • "There's no need for me to restate my long-standing support for the 60-vote threshold to pass legislation. ... It is a view I've held during my years serving in both the U.S. House and the Senate, and it is the view I continue to hold."

Go deeper

Pence: "Tragic" Jan. 6 no reason to scrap filibuster

Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday called the Jan. 6 Capitol riot an attempt to "overturn results of the presidential election that had been certified by all 50 states."

Why it matters: Though the former vice president's op-ed in the Washington Post focuses on rebutting filibuster reforms, these are also the most public statements Pence has made about the post-election narrative and the attack as an effort to interfere with President Biden's victory.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Winter view from Charlotte as winter storm Izzy creates dangerous conditions in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 16. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The big picture: Heavy snow and ice accumulations are "likely to produce hazardous travel," downed trees and more power outages from the Mid-South to the Northeast, per the National Weather Service. Some parts of the U.S. can expect to see up to a foot of snow through Monday.

Updated 1 hour ago - Science

Volcanic eruption in Tonga caused "significant" damage

This satellite image of the eruption on Jan. 15 taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Photo: NICT via AP

Significant damage has been reported in Tonga following an undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday, which covered the Pacific nation in ash and cut off communication lines.

Driving the news: The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across Tonga's islands and in other regions, including the West Coast of the U.S. and New Zealand.