Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona will return to the White House on Wednesday for her fourth meeting in just two days — as progressive lawmakers berate her for sticking to the party’s social and economic agenda.
Sinema is one of two Senate Democrats, along with West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, who have been the target of intense White House negotiation efforts on the eve of a House vote on a bipartisan infrastructure package costing more than $1 trillion.
The president’s plans for environmental programs, Medicare expansion, paid time off, child tax credits, and plans to tax corporations and the wealthy are all at stake.
A group of progressive Democrats threatens to vote against the package if there is no agreement yet on a larger $3.5 trillion reconciliation package that the 50-50 Senate will not approve without the backing of Sinema and Manchin.
Sinema was in the White House on Tuesday morning, back in the afternoon and again in the evening.
“The president has already won me over. I’m on his side because, by the way, 99 percent of the Democratic party,” furious Rep. Ro Khanna on CNN. “We are ready to negotiate,” he said. “Literally one senator – one senator, Kyrsten Sinema – is holding back the will of the entire Democratic Party,” he said.
sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., a holdout on President Biden’s $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, returns to the White House for her fourth meeting in two days
Part of what infuriates some of her colleagues is that Sinema has not said publicly what her concerns are with the reconciliation bill or what amount of charges she would be willing to accept.
Illustrating the commitment to his agenda, President Biden canceled a planned trip to Chicago on Wednesday to focus on negotiations.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that Biden and Sinema “have had a constructive meeting, agreed that we are at a pivotal moment, must continue to work to complete the path forward,” without releasing details about what she’s looking for.
Sinema’s office has also declined to express its specific concerns. The New York Times reported Monday that Sinema has privately told colleagues she has problems with corporate tax and individual increases, which the bill is targeting wealthy Americans.
“This is not progressive versus moderate. This is the whole Democratic Party and Joe Biden versus Kyrsten Sinema,” outraged Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.)
President Biden canceled a planned trip to Chicago on Wednesday to focus on negotiations
‘It’s not a matter of making demands. They have a values discussion with the president of the United States,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who organized a vote on the infrastructure on Thursday.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ripped into Sinema last month. “Good luck fueling your own party’s investment in childcare, climate action and infrastructure, assuming you’ll survive a 3-vote margin in the House – especially after choosing to exclude members of color from negotiations and to call that a “two-pronged achievement,” she said
In comments to the Republic of Arizona last week, she focused on climate change. “We know that a changing climate is costing Arizonans. And right now we have the opportunity to put smart policies in place to address it – we look forward to it,” she said – in comments that have some observers questioning whether she wants a carbon tax, a potential compensation being considered for the package.
Khanna said Biden has tried to extract information from Sinema without success.
‘That is the question. The president keeps begging her: tell us what you want. Make an offer,’ Khsanna said. He noted that progressive lawmakers had bounced back from an earlier push for $6 trillion in the “human infrastructure” bill.
“How do you compromise… if Sinema doesn’t say anything?” he asked. “This is not progressive versus moderate. This is the whole Democratic Party and Joe Biden versus Kyrsten Sinema,” he added. ‘I have no idea what she wants. I don’t think her colleagues know what she wants. I don’t think the president knows what she wants. We don’t know what she wants. it’s really strange.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked by reporters on Wednesday whether Sinema and Manchin should lay out their demands
‘It’s not a matter of making demands. They’re having a values discussion with the President of the United States… this is much friendlier than you might think just watching television or reading the paper.’
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ripped into Sinema last month after coming out against the size of the pack. “Good luck fueling your own party’s investment in childcare, climate action and infrastructure, assuming you’ll survive a 3-vote margin in the House – especially after choosing to exclude members of color from negotiations and that a “two-pronged feat,” she said, regarding the infrastructure deal negotiators.