PHOENIX – Arizona Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema faced further defections on October 21 from the broad base of support she built to win her seat in 2018 when five members of her advisory board veterans resigned over his opposition to parts of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan and his refusal to abandon the Senate filibuster.
The resignations come as progressive groups increase their pressure on the first-term moderate, who, along with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, is seen as holding back progress as Biden dramatically cuts his $3.5 trillion plan. to gain their support.
Democrats need their support to push the legislation through the Senate 50-50. This would allow Vice President Kamala Harris to provide the deciding vote.
Veterans are also upset with Sinema for refusing to support the filibuster changes, saying it prevents action on voting rights, immigration and other key Democratic priorities, according to a scathing letter they made public on Thursday. And they pointed to her reported opposition to allowing Medicare to negotiate the prices of drugs to be included in Biden’s infrastructure package, saying it went against a key campaign promise she made to rein in the drugs. drug prices.
“These are not the actions of a maverick,” said the five veterans wrote. “We should have realized that once you showed your true character by refusing to vote to establish a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the United States Capitol.”
U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, speaks during the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the nomination of Chris Magnus as the next U.S. Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, on Capitol Hill in Washington , DC, October 19, 2021. (File photo
Veterans were a key constituency that Sinema courted during his 2018 campaign to replace Sen. Jeff Flake, who declined to seek another term after his criticism of then-President Donald Trump made it impossible for him to survive a Republican primary. Sinema beat the then rep. Martha McSally – the first Democrat to win a Senate seat from Arizona in more than two decades – and has since embraced the “maverick” label worn by John McCain, the Arizona senator and Republican presidential candidate President of 2008, who died months before winning his Senate seat.
Sinema released a statement Thursday thanking veterans for their contributions to his work to ensure veterans get the benefits they have earned.
“While it is unfortunate that an apparent disagreement on separate political issues led to this decision, I thank them for their service and will continue to work every day to provide the Arizona veterans who have sacrificed so much to keep us safe,” she said. in a report.
Sinema has been tight-lipped about which parts of Biden’s radical plan she supports, with her spokespeople consistently saying she negotiates directly with the president and congressional leaders and not in the press. But his opposition to tax increases on corporations and wealthy individuals earning more than $400,000 a year prompted Biden to drop them from the proposal on Oct. 19.
Biden’s ambitious $3.5 trillion social services and climate change package is also being cut, likely to just $2 trillion over 10 years, in part to appease Sinema and Manchin. Sinema said there was no way she would support that higher level of spending.
She said in an interview with The Arizona Republic newspaper last month that she doesn’t want the package to fuel inflation. But she rarely speaks to reporters and her views on many specific elements of the measure are unclear.
The veterans group’s resignations were announced by Common Defence, a progressive veterans group that also posted a Sinema review featuring one of the veterans, Sylvia González Adersh, retired from the US Air Force.
Also on Thursday, progressive groups in Arizona staged the latest in a series of protests designed to increase pressure on Sinema. The groups want Sinema to end the filibuster so Democrats can enact pro-union legislation, immigration reform and voting rights legislation that Republicans are now blocking.
Arizona now has two Democratic senators, but the reality on the ground is that their status remains up in the air as former Republican voters could easily change that over the next four years. Democratic Senator Mark Kelly, elected last year to finish out McCain’s term, faces re-election in 2022 and Sinema faces voters again in 2024.
This led Sinema to adopt moderate positions. She won the election by building a centrist base of independent voters in the state while retaining the support of progressive and moderate Democrats.
She has stated unequivocally that she will not vote to end the Senate rule that requires 60 votes to advance legislation, arguing that doing so would allow legislation to pass that would be swept away the next time control of the Congress would pass to the Republicans.
In one June opinion piece in the Washington PostShe also noted that Democrats used the filibuster last year to block legislation they opposed.
But her opposition to parts of Biden’s plan and her refusal to sweep away the filibuster puts her in jeopardy from the left.
After attending the latest rally held by angry progressives on Thursday, a Democrat said he would keep up the pressure — even if it means a Republican wins in 2024. Now, he said, progressive Democrats are unhappy with Sinema for what she doesn’t do.
“The way we look at it when it comes to progressives is we already have a Republican in power, so what are we going to lose,” said State House member and union member Rich Andrade. “Either you support us and the chances of winning the next race are stronger, or you completely ruin your chances of winning.”
Associated Press reporter Alan Fram in Washington contributed.
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