With deadline approaching, Sen. Sinema continues to oppose budget bill

Arizona’s senior senator remains at odds with her party

Kyrsten+Sinema+speaking+with+supporters+in+Phoenix.

Gage Skidmore

Kyrsten Sinema speaking with supporters in Phoenix.

With less than one week until a federal government shutdown could commence, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is drawing fresh ire for refusing to back a provision that would pave the way to implement a critical spending bill.

Sinema, alongside fellow Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, reportedly informed President Joe Biden during a Sept. 15 meeting that she is against a proposal to have Medicare directly negotiate drug prices.

Not coincidentally, Sinema has raked in thousands of dollars from pharmaceutical companies that are opposed to the prescription drug plan and would lose a lot of money if it were enacted. These donations have swelled now to roughly $750,000.

“We’re protecting Arizonans with pre-existing conditions, ending surprise medical bills, and making prescription drugs more affordable,” Sinema wrote in a March 2020 tweet.

The proposal could, in large part, pay for a $3.5 trillion infrastructure package which the Biden administration hopes to pass before a Sept. 27 deadline. Without substantive movement on this front — among others — from Congress, government funding will expire on Sept. 30. This would lead to a partial shutdown.

We need to make health care more affordable, lower prescription drug prices, and fix the problems in the system – not go back to letting insurance companies call all the shots.”

— Kyrsten Sinema, 2018

“Kyrsten is working directly in good faith with her colleagues and President Biden on the proposed budget reconciliation package,” Sinema spokesperson John LaBombard told Politico. “Given the size and scope of the proposal, while those discussions are ongoing we are not offering detailed comment on any one proposed piece of the package.”

Regardless of Sinema’s willingness to comment publicly, the senator continues to face blowback and accusations of hypocrisy at home.

Activists from the Working Families Party demonstrated against Sinema at the Arizona State Capitol on Tuesday, watching an ice sculpture of her now-infamous thumbs-down gesture melt away. Among the attendees was state senator Rebecca Rios.

“We need Sen. Sinema to deliver for Arizona, not for special interests,” she said. “We call upon her to once again be bold and fight for the working families of Arizona.”

Before her election to the Senate, Sinema was hailed as a progressive bulwark and a champion for Arizona’s families. A March 2018 tweet even reflected her desire to cut insurance companies out of the health care equation.

“We need to make health care more affordable, lower prescription drug prices, and fix the problems in the system – not go back to letting insurance companies call all the shots,” Sinema said at the time.

But the threat of a primary challenge in 2024 still looms for Sinema, especially in light of her opposition to the reconciliation bill and her role in obstructing the Democrats’ agenda.