Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is reportedly blowing off President Joe Biden’s phone calls as he tries to pressure her to back his massive “human infrastructure” spending bill.
Biden is also reportedly getting frustrated with the Arizona Democrat as she and fellow moderate Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, both of whom are not on board with Biden’s $3.5 trillion package. But apparently, the frustration is mutual because Sinema isn’t returning Biden’s call, CNN reports:
“Off the charts,” one Democratic senator told CNN on Thursday when asked about the caucus’ frustration with Manchin, contending many senators privately gripe that the West Virginia Democrat takes his public stands for “publicity” reasons.
Biden himself has sounded exasperated at both Manchin and Sinema, according to Democratic lawmakers who have spoken to him. The President told progressives this week that he has spent many hours with the two senators “and they don’t move,” two sources said. Biden even contended that Sinema didn’t always return calls from the White House, the sources added.
Progressives have also railed at Sinema and Manchin, including the Senate’s socialist-leaning member, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
“2 senators cannot be allowed to defeat what 48 senators and 210 House members want. We must stand with the working families of our country. We must combat climate change. We must delay passing the Infrastructure Bill until we pass a strong Reconciliation Bill,”Sanders (I-VT) tweeted on October 1, forgetting the opposition of 50 GOP senators and attempting to pin the blame solely on Sinema and Manchin.
Last week, Sinema blasted her own party after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) refused to bring up a bipartisan $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill for a vote, giving in to pressure from her progressive caucus who want the $3.5 trillion package passed first.
In a statement she posted online, the moderate Dem said that the delay is “inexcusable and deeply disappointing for communities across our country.”
“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,” Sinema noted in a tweet accompanying her statement.
“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, known for her maverick mentality and feisty personality, said. “Denying Americans millions of good-paying jobs, safer roads, cleaner water, more reliable electricity, and better broadband only hurts everyday families.”
“Arizonans, and all everyday Americans, expect their lawmakers to consider legislation on the merits — rather than obstruct new jobs and critical infrastructure investments for no substantive reason. What Americans have seen instead is an ineffective stunt to gain leverage over a separate proposal,” the Arizona Democrat continued.
“My vote belongs to Arizona, and I do not trade my vote for political favors — I vote based only on what is best for my state and the country. I have never, and would never, agree to any bargain that would hold one piece of legislation hostage to another,” Sinema noted further.
Also, Sinema was confronted by activists last week who followed her into a bathroom after a class she was teaching at Arizona State University to harass her over her stance against the massive bill.
“Yesterday, several individuals disrupted my class at Arizona State University. After deceptively entering a locked, secure building, these individuals filmed and publicly posted videos of my students without their permission — including footage taken of both my students and I using a restroom,” she said in a statement. “In Arizona, we love the First Amendment. We know it is vital to our democracy that constituents can freely petition, protest, or criticize my policy positions and decisions.”
“The activist group that engaged in yesterday’s behavior is one that both my team and I have met with several times since I was elected to the Senate,” she continued, “and I will continue engaging with Arizonians with diverse viewpoints to help inform my work for Arizona.”