Bernie Sanders: Kyrsten Sinema ‘contributed to the sabotage’ of important legislation
Senator Bernie Sanders said Sunday he believes part of the reason Senator Kyrsten Sinema decided to quit the Democratic Party was that her constituents had lost faith in her, adding that the Arizona lawmaker had “contributed to sabotaging” important legislation.
Sinema’s decision, announced Friday, to move from Democrat to independent “probably has a lot to do with politics in Arizona,” the Vermont independent told Dana Bash. on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“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 and the right to vote and so on. So I think it really has to do with his political aspirations for the future in Arizona,” Sanders said.
Democrats have criticized several moments in Sinema’s voting record, such as when she opposed dropping the filibuster — even to pass suffrage legislation — helped stall an effort by $15 minimum wage and opposed closing a tax loophole that benefits the ultra-rich. She and Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) have become major roadblocks to passing President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.
“But for us, I don’t think anything has changed much in terms of how the US Senate works,” Sanders continued. “The good news is that we now have 51 votes. We will have the majority in the committees. It means we can move forward and start protecting the interests of working families and face the reality that we increasingly live in an oligarchy, where the billionaire class and big business control almost all aspects of our country.
Sanders is probably right that Sinema’s change of party won’t change much in the Senate. While Sanders and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) both have caucuses with Democrats, Sinema hasn’t outright said she will do the same — only that she will retain her chair of two subcommittees. That helps keep Senate Democrats in the majority.
“It probably won’t surprise you if I tell you that I don’t try to be like anybody else,” Sinema told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, comparing himself to other independent senators. “What I try to do is be true to my values and the values of my state. So I think everyone should make their own decisions as to where or where they belong. I will continue to do exactly what I do, which is to stay focused on the work and ignore all the noise.
Sanders made sure to note, however, that he believes Sinema’s values include prioritizing corporate interests over her working-class constituents, and that she is not capable of taking charge of powerful vested interests in Congress.
“She is a corporate Democrat, who has, in fact, with Senator Manchin, sabotaged extremely important legislation,” he said.
While Sinema’s party switch won’t have a significant impact on the Senate, it will significantly affect the GOP’s chances in the 2024 election. The senator faced tough primary challenges from Democrats like the representing Ruben Gallego (Arizona). As an independent candidate, Sinema will probably no longer face a main challenger at all.
It does mean, however, that Arizona voters could face a three-way race that could split non-Republican votes between Sinema and a Democratic nominee, making it easier for the GOP to win the crucial Senate seat.
“You know, I don’t make decisions based on the easy road or the hard road,” Sinema said. “I’ve always tried to make decisions based on what I think is right. And for me, it’s really important that we have a discussion back home in Arizona and here in the nation’s capital about reducing partisanship and that we only focus on solving the challenges we face in America.
The Huffington Gt