Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) does not support the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation plan.
Faced with a divided Senate, leadership in the Democratic Party has been attempting to ram a $3.5 trillion spending package through Congress with a process known as budget reconciliation, which allows them to avoid the sixty-vote threshold to hold a debate in the Senate.
The package — which some analysts suspect could truly cost as much as $5.5 trillion — incorporates elements of domestic spending proposals from President Biden, such as the American Families Plan. The roughly $1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework — which lawmakers may begin to officially consider as soon as Wednesday evening — is a separate item from the Democrats’ budget proposal.
On Wednesday, Sinema announced that she is concerned about the cost implications of the spending package.
“I have also made clear that while I will support beginning this process, I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion — and in the coming months, I will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration to strengthen Arizona’s economy and help Arizona’s everyday families get ahead,” Sinema said in a written statement to The Arizona Republic.
Sinema — who is among the more moderate Democrats in the Senate — may therefore be a thorn in the side of party leadership, who must secure the support of all fifty Democratic Senators in order to pass the $3.5 trillion package.
Since the inauguration of President Biden, the lawmaker has been willing to oppose the Democratic consensus.
For instance, she explained her opposition to removing the filibuster in a recent op-ed for The Washington Post:
I understand bipartisanship seems outdated to many pundits. But the difficult work of collaboration is what we expect in Arizona. And I still believe it is the best way to identify realistic solutions — instead of escalating all-or-nothing political battles that result in no action, or in whipsawing federal policy reversals…
This question is less about the immediate results from any of these Democratic or Republican goals — it is the likelihood of repeated radical reversals in federal policy, cementing uncertainty, deepening divisions and further eroding Americans’ confidence in our government.
Sinema also drew the ire of progressives when she voted against an amendment to the American Rescue Plan that would have raised the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour — especially because she bobbed her knees as she signaled a thumbs-down to the policy, projecting body language that reflected some degree of lightheartedness while offering the vote.