‘Obstacle to Progress’: Veterans Quit Kyrsten Sinema’s Advisory Council in Protest
Five veterans are publicly resigning from an advisory council for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and calling her out for “hanging your constituents out to dry” as she continues to impede the progress on key portions of President Biden’s legislative agenda.
The letter, which was obtained by The New York Times, is featured in an advertisement by progressive veterans’ group Common Defense. “You have become one of the principal obstacles to progress, answering to big donors rather than your own people,” the veterans who had served on Sinema’s advisory council since 2019 wrote.
Sinema, along with centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), has been an obstacle for Democrats hoping to pass major legislation to expand the social safety net and mitigate the climate crisis. Sinema has steadfastly opposed increasing corporate and individual income tax rates to pay for new social spending, leaving Democrats in a difficult position. They need all of their party’s senators to support the bill in order to bypass the filibuster and pass it through reconciliation. In the letter, the veterans also criticize Sinema for failing to support Democrats’ For the People Act to protect voting rights, as well as her opposition to proposals to lower prescription drug prices under Medicare by allowing the agency to negotiate for better deals, a stance that may be connected to her close ties with Arizona biotech companies.
Sylvia González Andersh, one of the veterans who signed the letter, told the Times that Sinema has been a disappointment because she refuses to listen to constituents. “Democrats were out desperately trying to help her win the seat, and now we feel like, what was it for?” Andersh said. “Nobody knows what she is thinking because she doesn’t tell anybody anything. It’s very sad to think that someone who you worked for that hard to get elected is not even willing to listen.”
“As members of your veterans’ advisory council, we feel as though we are being used as window dressing for your own image and not to provide counsel on what’s best for Arizonans,” Andersh said in the advertisement, reading from the letter.
In a statement to the Times responding to the letter, Sinema said she would “always remain grateful for these individuals’ service to our nation.”
“While it is unfortunate that apparent disagreement on separate policy issues has led to this decision,” the senator said in a statement, “I thank them for their service and will continue working every day to deliver for Arizona’s veterans who have sacrificed so much to keep us safe and secure.”
Progressive activists have been targeting Sinema because of her opposition to Democratic priorities, and some even went so far as to corner the senator in a public restroom at an airport recently.
“We do not know who has your ear, but it clearly isn’t us or your constituents,” the veterans said.