House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) isn’t often seriously challenged by members of her party, but one Senate Democrat is apparently bucking that trend.
According to Politico, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) recently indicated that she’s not interested in supporting an effort to stuff the next COVID-19 relief bill with a wishlist of Democrat-led and Pelosi-backed proposals, including a recent push to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
In a phone interview with Politico, Sinema made crystal clear that she won’t support adding anything into the next COVID-19 relief package that isn’t directly tied to actual measures meant to provide Americans relief.
“What’s important is whether or not it’s directly related to short-term COVID relief. And if it’s not, then I am not going to support it in this legislation,” Sinema said.
The senator doubled down, specifically, on the minimum wage hike, which is not only a provision not just being pushed by Pelosi, but also by President Joe Biden and a number of other Democrats, who appear to be using the budget reconciliation loophole to pass the legislation with a simple majority vote.
“The minimum wage provision is not appropriate for the reconciliation process. It is not a budget item. And it shouldn’t be in there,” Sinema said, making her one of the first prominent senators to speak out against the idea of including the provision.
Not only is Sinema very clearly unafraid of upsetting progressive members of the party by not exploiting the budget reconciliation rules to cram through whatever legislation they want, but her public defiance is nothing less than a thorn in the side of the Biden administration, who promised to get the minimum wage bump through Congress sooner than later.
Crossing party lines
Sadly, Sinema is lonely most of the time when it comes to breaking from the Democratic Party line; in fact, she was one of very few members of her caucus who publicly opposed the idea of eliminating the Senate filibuster.
“I want to restore the 60-vote threshold for all elements of the Senate’s work,” Sinema said, according to The Week.
The Arizona senator also keeps close allies on the Republican side of the aisle, including a friendship with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), and she was practically the only senator who stood up and clapped during former President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, Politico noted.
“She’s not someone who cares about convention and the way things were,” Romney said of his Democrat friend, according to Politico. “She recognizes the real tradition of a Republic, which is that we are elected not to put our finger in the air to determine the direction of the wind.”
Sinema is still known as a “team player” among her Democratic colleagues, but it’s refreshing to see that there are still members of Congress who are willing to put extreme partisanship aside and serve the best interests of the voters, even at the risk of losing popularity.