- Sinema won’t back a larger Democratic spending bill until the House passes the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Reuters reported.
- The Arizona Democrat’s opposition would effectively stall the party-line bill.
- Progressives are assailing Sinema for refusing to lay out what she seeks in the safety net bill.
Arizona Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is threatening to torpedo Biden’s agenda, telling a group of fellow moderate Democrats in the House of Representatives that she will not support a multitrillion-dollar reconciliation package until Congress passes the $US1 ($AU1) trillion infrastructure spending bill first, Reuters reported Thursday.
Reuters cited a source briefed on the meeting in its report about the request by Sinema, a key moderate whose resistance to the reconciliation deal has stalled Biden’s signature legislation.
Sinema wields power to prevent legislation from moving forward in the split 50-50 Senate, given Democrats are using a process known as reconciliation to muscle the bill through relying on their thin majorities. It allows the bill to approve with only a simple majority vote, bypassing united Republican opposition and the usual 60-vote threshold in the Senate. But Senate Democrats must stick together for the plan to clear the upper chamber.
The $US3.5 ($AU5) trillion budget reconciliation package is a staple of President Joe Biden’s agenda, packed with priorities such as affordable childcare, an expansion of Medicaid and Medicare, and expanded child tax credits. But moderates Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin are holding out on the bill as a separate bipartisan infrastructure package is discussed in the House.
House progressives, meanwhile, refused to pass the infrastructure deal unless the reconciliation package was approved at the same time. A progressive rebellion late last month forced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pull the bill from the floor since it was on the verge of failing.
This week, progressives ripped into Sinema for refusing to lay out what she seeks in the safety net bill. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said on Tuesday that “the time is long overdue” for Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to describe their priorities. Now, Sinema seems determined for it to pass first.
Reps for Sinema did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Insider.