- Sen. Kyrsten Sinema was widely criticized for her vote against raising the minimum wage.
- She cast her vote by giving a thumbs down on the Senate floor, further inciting backlash.
- A spokesperson suggested to HuffPost that such criticism was sexist.
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Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat from Arizona, incited backlash Friday when she voted against a portion of the COVID-19 relief package that would’ve raised the federal minimum wage to $US15 ($20).
While much of the backlash from progressives centered around her decision to oppose the minimum wage hike, she was also widely criticized for the way in which she cast her vote by making an exaggerated, dramatic thumbs-down gesture.
But later Friday, Sinema’s office implied in a statement that such criticism was sexist, according to HuffPost.
“Commentary about a female senator’s body language, clothing, or physical demeanor does not belong in a serious media outlet,” a spokesperson for Sinema told the outlet.
The statement further incited social media backlash against the Arizona senator.
“I am a feminist. I am a woman of color. And I am SO NOT going to let her use sexism as a shield for her offensive glee with which she chose to hurt working people,” one person said in a tweet.
—HawaiiDelilah™ (@HawaiiDelilah) March 6, 2021
The move drew some parallels to the late Republican Sen. John McCain, also from Arizona, who in 2017 flashed a thumbs down in a decisive vote that upheld a key provision of the Affordable Care Act.
Sinema was part of eight Democrats, which included Sens. Chris Coons of Delaware, Angus King of Maine, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Tom Carper of Delaware, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Jon Tester of Montana, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, to reject the proposal made by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
—Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) March 5, 2021
Sanders’ proposal had gone against a ruling from the Senate parliamentarian, who said that a minimum wage increase could not be included in President Joe Biden’s $US1.9 ($2) trillion COVID-19 stimulus package. A minimum wage increase was a key part of Biden’s campaign for the White House.
In a statement posted to Twitter Friday, Sinema said she supported raising the minimum wage in the future.
“I understand what it is like to face tough choices while working to meet your family’s most basic needs,” she said.
She continued: “Senators in both parties have shown support for raising the federal minimum wage and the Senate should hold an open debate and amendment process on raising the minimum wage, separate from the COVID-focused reconciliation bill.”