Kyrsten Sinema Blasts Dems But Won’t State Her Objections to Social Safety Net Bill
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) said the decision to postpone a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill in the House was “deeply disappointing” and “inexcusable” after Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to bring the bill to the floor on Friday. The senator has been at the center of negotiations for the bipartisan package and a reconciliation bill that contains much of the president’s Build Back Better agenda that would expand the social safety net, and she has frustrated colleagues with what they say is a lack of clarity on her objections to it. Unfortunately for them, her Saturday statement did not clear things up.
“The failure of the U.S. House to hold a vote on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is inexcusable, and deeply disappointing for communities across our country,” Sinema said in a statement Saturday. “Denying Americans millions of good-paying jobs, safer roads, cleaner water, more reliable electricity, and better broadband only hurts everyday families.”
Not voting on the bipartisan bill, she wrote, “further erodes… trust” in Democratic leaders, who she says “have made conflicting promises that could not all be kept — and have, at times, pretended that differences of opinion within our party did not exist.” She also claimed progressives are holding legislation “hostage.”
Canceling the U.S. House vote on the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act denies Americans millions of new good-paying jobs and hurts everyday families.
Full statement ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/BM7hrUL3KK
— Kyrsten Sinema (@SenatorSinema) October 2, 2021
Pelosi’s decision to delay the vote came as the progressive and moderate wings of the party disagreed about the path forward on two pieces of legislation. The Progressive Caucus, with nearly 100 members, refuses to support the bipartisan infrastructure package that would fund roads, bridges and broadband without also passing a $3.5 reconciliation bill that includes priorities from Biden’s Build Back Better agenda — something Sinema called an “ineffective stunt” in her statement. Priorities in the $3.5 trillion bill address child care, universal kindergarten and community college, as well as Medicare expansion and paid family and medical leave.
A small number of House moderates, however, are insisting on passing the bipartisan bill first, and soon. Sens. Sinema and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) each sided with the moderates. Manchin has justified his decision by saying the $3.5 trillion price tag was too high. Sinema’s objections have been less clear, even to her colleagues. As negotiations were ongoing, Sinema left D.C. to fly to Arizona on Friday for what her office said was a doctor’s appointment, but the trip’s schedule also includes attending a fundraiser for her political action committee.
Many of Sinema’s fellow Democrats have been critical of her tactics, including Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who told Rolling Stone this week, “This is the U.S. Congress and she’s not demonstrating the basic competence or good faith of a member of Congress. I’m just totally perplexed by her. As is every colleague I’ve talked to, moderates, progressives, you name it.”
Deputy chair of the Progressive Caucus, Rep. Katie Porter, expressed her frustration with Sinema on MSNBC Wednesday. “Until Senator Sinema stops being cute, and starts doing her job and leading for the people of Arizona, we’re simply not going to be able to move the president’s agenda forward,” Porter said.
“I was not elected to read the mind of Kyrsten Sinema. Thank goodness, because I have no idea what she’s thinking,” she added.
The impasse in the House prompted a Biden visit to Capitol Hill on Friday where he promised to “get it done” but did not give a specific timeline. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s six minutes, six days or six weeks — we’re going to get it done,” Biden told reporters as he left a meeting with Democrats.
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