Kyrsten Sinema blocks Democrats’ plan to spend $3.5 trillion on infrastructure, setting up major cuts

Kyrsten Sinema
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images
  • Kyrsten Sinema on Wednesday came out against Democrats’ $US3.5 ($AU5) trillion spending plan.
  • Her opposition will force Democrats to scale back the bill to earn her support.
  • She did not specify a new spending amount.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona on Wednesday came out in opposition to Democrats’ $US3.5 ($AU5) trillion spending blueprint, virtually ensuring her party would be forced to make substantial cuts to get her on board.

In a statement to The Arizona Republic, the moderate Democrat said while she supported efforts to bolster the country’s economic competitiveness in an infrastructure plan, she believed the bill was too large.

“I have also made clear that while I will support beginning this process, I do not support a bill that costs $US3.5 ($AU5) trillion – and in the coming months, I will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration to strengthen Arizona’s economy and help Arizona’s everyday families get ahead,” she said.

Sinema’s opposition will come as a blow to other Senate Democrats, who ultimately agreed on a $US3.5 ($AU5) trillion spending plan earlier this month. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, had pressed for a much larger spending proposal but settled on $US3.5 ($AU5) trillion. Earlier on July 28, hopes for the bill were raised as key Republican senators reached agreement with the White House on a bipartisan basis.

Other Democrats had expressed concern about high spending in a party-line process. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is another key moderate who has demanded any reconciliation bill be fully paid for. It is unclear whether Senate progressives will balk at the new figure and push for a higher price tag.

All 50 Senate Democrats must stick together for a reconciliation package to clear the upper chamber in a simple majority vote. Embarking on the process allows them to circumvent Senate Republicans who are staunchly opposed to its measures.

Democrats are seeking to stuff many new social initiatives in the reconciliation plan, including a national paid-leave program, affordable childcare, prescription-drug reform, and another extension of monthly cash payments for parents. They also want robust spending on green-energy initiatives to combat the climate crisis. Sinema’s spike makes cuts to the package likely.

Sanders told reporters on Wednesday that a final reconciliation bill would likely clear the Senate in September. But he expressed confidence that every Senate Democrat would vote to advance the $US3.5 ($AU5) trillion blueprint in the next few weeks.

“The working families of this country, the children of this country, the elderly people of this country deserve to have their needs, and we intend to do just that,” he said.

He later told Insider he was speaking with House progressives who were balking at the idea of a slimmer party-line bill.

Some Senate Democrats were concerned that anything below the current price tag wouldn’t get all 50 Democratic senators on board.

“If it’s under $US3.5 ($AU5) [trillion], I’m not sure you get a budget resolution if it’s under $US3.5 ($AU5) [trillion]. You have to get 50 votes,” Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut told Insider.