Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has reportedly ignored phone calls from President Joe Biden as he tries to wrangle her support for his agenda.
Biden’s frustration with the Arizona senator is growing as she and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) continue to stall the White House’s efforts to push costly legislation through Congress. The feeling of frustration is apparently mutual as Sinema has begun blowing off calls from the White House, according to CNN. As the outlet 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.
Democratic leaders and progressives in Congress have hounded Sinema and Manchin over their refusal to rubber stamp Biden’s high-spending priorities.
“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,” self-proclaimed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tweeted on October 1, ignoring the opposition of 50 GOP senators and attempting to pin the blame solely on Sinema and Manchin.
On Sunday, activists pursued Sinema into a bathroom at Arizona State University, where she teaches a course at the university’s School of Social Work. The activists pushed Sinema to support Biden’s plan, continuing to follow her and yell as she entered the bathroom and went into a stall.
In response to the incident, Biden told reporters that “it happens to everybody.”
“I don’t think they’re appropriate tactics, but it happens to everybody,” Biden told reporters on Monday. “The only people it doesn’t happen to are people who have Secret Service standing around them. So it’s part of the process.”
Sinema released a statement after the incident condemning the activists’ behavior.
“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 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.”
“Yesterday’s behavior was not legitimate protest. It is unacceptable for activist organizations to instruct their members to jeopardize themselves by engaging in unlawful activities such as gaining entry to closed university buildings, disrupting learning environments, and filming students in a restroom,” she said. “In the 19 years I have been teaching at ASU, I have committed to creating a safe and intellectually challenging environment for my students. Yesterday, that environment was breached. My students were unfairly and unlawfully victimized. This is wholly inappropriate.”