The Sausage Making: Kyrsten Sinema’s Secret Policy Demands

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 06: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images.
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October 13, 2021 5:57 p.m.

While Congress is in recess this week, we’ll be watching negotiations on the infrastructure bill and presenting them to you in an evening briefing. Check in here to find out how the sausage-making is shaping up. 

While Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) largely share the honor of biggest gadflies to their own party, Sinema in particular is a fluorescent-wigged enigma. Her background and state’s politics, unlike Manchin’s, do not lend themselves to her insistence on occupying the right-most fringe of the Senate Democratic caucus. And there’s a one-to-one comparison — while no one expects Sen. Shelley Moore Capitol (R-WV) to support President Biden’s agenda, Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) is acting much more like you’d expect a purple state Democrat to behave. 

New reporting from Politico will only compound the frustration for Democrats who feel that she’s being coy with her demands even while threatening the package’s existence. “I’m not going to share with you or with Schumer or with Pelosi,” she reportedly told a Democratic senator recently. “I have already told the White House what I am willing to do and what I’m not willing to do. I’m not mysterious. It’s not that I can’t make up my mind. I communicated it to them in detail. They just don’t like what they’re hearing.”

Debt Ceiling Crisis Averted, Again 

  • The House passed the debt ceiling extension last night, shoring up the full faith and credit of the United States until at least early December. 
  • The representatives voted on it as part of a weird procedural bundle of motions, so no one had to vote on the extension directly. 
  • Key quote: “The full faith and credit of the United States must never be questioned, and the financial security of families must never be gambled with, as our Republican colleagues seem to be doing, even though, as Mr. Hoyer mentioned, that Mr. McConnell at one point was playing Russian Roulette with the economy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said on the floor. “Russian Roulette for Moscow Mitch. Interesting.”  

Manchin vs. Sinema 

  • Another difficulty presented by the two problem Democrats is that they don’t appear to agree with each other about what to support and what to axe. Sinema doesn’t have Manchin’s hangups about climate proposals, while Manchin lacks Sinema’s fondness for the pharmaceutical industry that has left her cold on the uber popular Medicare drug pricing proposal. 
  • “From what I’ve heard they don’t agree with each other on everything either,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) said today on CNN. “So we’re waiting for the two of them to agree with each other and then to submit a counterproposal. And I’m not sure why it’s taking so long.” 

A Bernie Op-Ed…On Fox News?

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is carrying his message on special interests working to defeat the reconciliation package even to those who aren’t his natural allies, in a new op-ed for Fox News. 
  • Key quote: “Will all Democrats stand together to protect the interests of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor? Will all Democrats stand together to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, the health insurance companies, the fossil fuel industry, and wealthy campaign contributors? I certainly hope so.”  
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