After announcing his departure from the Democratic Party to become an independent, Sen. Bernie Sanders called Sen. Kyrsten Sinema a “corporate Democrat” who “sabotaged” key Democratic priorities with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.
Interviewed by CNN State of the Union host Dana Bash on Dec. 11 if he thinks the Arizona senator has the “gut” to take on powerful special interests, he said “no.”
“She doesn’t,” the Vermont progressive said. “It’s a Democratic enterprise that actually, along with Senator Manchin, sabotaged extremely important legislation.”
Ms. Sinema, an unapologetic moderate who has repeatedly frustrated members of her former party, was Arizona’s first Democrat elected to the Senate in 30 years when she was first elected in 2018. She is also the first-ever female state senator and the first openly bisexual senator in United States history.
Progressives and other Democratic officials have criticized the senator for her refusal to meet with her constituents and her alleged deference to corporate interests at the expense of legislative agendas at the heart of President Joe Biden’s party platform and platform.
She has also been roundly criticized for voting against raising the federal hourly minimum wage to $15 with a performative “thumbs down” on the Senate floor, as well as her continued opposition to reforming or eliminating the legislative filibuster, the Senate’s 60-vote threshold to pass most bills, which have derailed several attempts to pass suffrage protections.
Although she left the Democratic Party, Ms Sinema will retain her committee assignments and caucus with Senate Democrats, allowing the party to retain slim majority control of the upper house of Congress. She has not indicated whether she intends to run again in 2024.
“She has her reasons” for leaving the party, according to Mr. Sanders, who is now one of three independent senators in the upper house, along with Ms. Sinema and Angus King of Maine.
“I suspect it probably has a lot to do with politics in Arizona,” he said. “I think the Democrats over there aren’t very enthusiastic about someone who helped sabotage some of the most important laws that protect the interests of working families, the right to vote, etc.”
So far, “nothing has changed much in terms of how the US Senate works,” he added.
“I hope with this new majority, Democrats will sit up and start fighting for the needs of ordinary Americans,” he said.
In a column for Arizona Republic Explaining her decision to leave, Ms Sinema said she believed ‘Americans are being told that we have only two choices – Democrat or Republican – and that we have to basically subscribe to the political views of the parties, views that have been pulled more and more to the extremes.”
“Most Arizonans think it’s a false choice, and when I ran for the United States House and Senate, I promised Arizonans something different,” she said.
In an interview with CNN, she said she “never fit right into a party box.”
“I never really tried. I don’t want to,” she added. “Removing myself from the partisan structure – not only is it true to who I am and how I operate, I also believe it will provide a place to belong for many people across the state and country, who are also tired of partisanship.”
The Independent Gt