Progressives are hopping mad with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)
The Arizona lawmaker, along with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), has frustrated plans to enact major parts of President Joe Biden's agenda by pledging to withhold their votes from a massive $3.5 trillion bill funding new entitlement programs and climate policies. Progressive Democrats in the House in turn have refused to support a bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure negotiated by Sinema until the Senate can come to an agreement on the larger spending bill.
But Sinema has shown no signs of budging. While Manchin has criticized the size of the reconciliation bill, claiming that spending another $3.5 trillion after Congress spent $5.4 trillion since last March on COVID-19 pandemic recovery, Sinema has reportedly raised concerns about the tax increases Democrats are proposing to partially fund their ambitious agenda.
According to Axios, Sinema is opposed to raising the corporate tax rate to 28%, the number favored by Biden, though she's indicated she may compromise to somewhere in the 24% range.
"She's raised flags about increasing the rate on corporations' international profits, which she believes could harm their competitiveness," Axios reported.
She also thinks Biden's proposed 39.6% capital gains tax rate is too high. And she is far more concerned with passing the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package she negotiated with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) over the summer.
But House progressives are infuriated and say they won't vote for the infrastructure deal until the reconciliation package is agreed to in the Senate. And the deal that Manchin wants, which would reduce the size of the spending bill to $1.5 trillion, is being called unacceptable by the left.
Demonstrating how Sinema and Manchin have become the focus of left-wing outrage, Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Friday that "2 senators cannot be allowed to defeat what 48 senators and 210 House members want" — putting the spotlight on the two Democrats and completely ignoring the opposition from 50 Republican senators that's forcing Democrats to seek a compromise.
The frustration is felt by grassroots voters too.
Arizona activists who in 2018 helped Sinema become the first Democrat to win a U.S. Senate seat in that state in three decades now say her demands on the reconciliation bill and opposition to changing the Senate's 60-vote threshold to pass legislation is blocking the Democratic agenda.
"This is our moment to deliver on all of the promises that we made," Emily Kirkland, the executive director of Progress Arizona, said in an interview with CNN. "She is just absolutely standing in the way of that, without making clear what she wants."
Kirkland said the Senate filibuster "lends itself to dysfunction" and complained, "We should have a system where you send a party to D.C., and they are able to enact an agenda."
Brianna Westbrook, a progressive voter and Arizona precinct captain, said Sinema "has shown that she cannot lead when her party is the majority."
The criticism doesn't seem to bother Sinema. She's kept secret spreadsheets of the true cost of Bidens' $3.5 trillion spending bill to help her during meetings with the White House. And after failing to reach a deal on the reconciliation package Thursday, Sinema has reportedly left Washington, D.C., sending a clear message that she's happy to walk away from negotiations if progressives won't make a deal.