Sinema and Legislation

Instead of complaining, she should use her leverage.

First, I have no clue was Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) actually wants.

Second, I typically take the statements of politicians to be less than 100% accurate and honest, especially when they are negotiating in public. As such, it is possible that the below is just typical political Kabuki.

Still, her indignation at the infrastructure bill’s delay is kind of silly (all quotes below via The Hill).

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) on Saturday slammed the decision to delay a vote this week on the bipartisan infrastructure deal that she helped negotiate, calling it “inexcusable.”

That word just seems utterly misplaced for what is clearly part of a broader negotiation within her party. Further, she later describes it thusly: “What Americans have seen instead is an ineffective stunt to gain leverage over a separate proposal.”

The part that is striking, of course, is that she has been effectively using her own leverage in the Senate to get what she wants. (And of all the members of Congress in both chambers and in both parties, it is harder to find one least in a moral position to complain about stunts).

And there is this:

“My vote belongs to Arizona, and I do not trade my vote for political favors — I vote based only on what is best for my state and the country. I have never, and would never, agree to any bargain that would hold one piece of legislation hostage to another,” she continued.

All well and good. Then she should be using her own power and influence to get further concessions for her state, not complaining about the fact other legislators have goals and opinions too. While I get that rhetoric like this can be part of negotiations, it gets to be a bit much given that she hardly acts like someone taking into consideration the individual goals of her colleagues.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    Occasionally Maureen Dowd is right and her observation that Sinema is starring in her own movie is one of those times.

    If Sinema fancies herself a Dem McCain or Collins, she’s not very observant, those 2 were/are reliable R votes when Mitch needed them. They’d get a bone and vote with the party. It’s time for her to vote with the party.

  2. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    I find her motives pretty transparent. She wants to be noticed and paid attention to. That’s really all there is there. When people stop noticing, she’ll fade into the woodwork. Unfortunately for her, her 15 minutes may be coming to an end.

  3. Paine says:

    Sure, Kyrsten, you and you alone are looking out for your constituents while everyone else is playing games and engaging in “stunts.” WHy can’t everyone be as principled as you.

  4. Dude Kembro says:

    Here, $inema is either lying or lacking in self-awareness to the point of delusion.

    She’s lecturing Biden, Pelosi, and Democrats about trust? Really? $inema, Manchin, and the other McConnell Democrats are the ones who can’t be trusted, after breaking their promise to support both bills as a packaged deal.

    And claiming no one can buy her vote is clearly dishonest. $inema opposes the Rx drug pricing plan — supported by a vast, bipartisan ~80% majority of Americans — because Big Pharma is paying her to do so, boldly and openly. Further, she skipped out on weekend legislative negotiations to raise money in Arizona from rich donors, lying that she was just attending a doctor’s appointment.

    As noted, there are few senators less trustworthy and more transparently corrupt than $inema.

    Arizona Democrats can surely find another Mark Kelly: a likeable, mainstream, moderate liberal who won’t oppose the popular Biden-Harris agenda to fix climate change and invest in healthcare, education, childcare, broadband, infrastructure, and transportation.

  5. Stormy Dragon says:

    Extra irony given the “my vote is not for sale” quote was made at a big corporate fundraising event.

  6. JohnSF says:

    Also, what the hell is she wearing?
    Is this Congress or the local disco?

  7. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Yup. She’s grandstanding.

  8. CSK says:

    That is one strange get-up.

  9. Mister Bluster says:

    Seems like I read that she provided her own copy of the Constitution for the United States of America to lay her hand on instead of a Bible when she was sworn in office. I thought that was a
    good thing to do. Since then she has not given me any reason to appreciate her term in office.

  10. Jen says:

    I really don’t care what she wears, but her sartorial selections do indicate her desire for attention.

    Perhaps that’s why I’ve come to dislike her so intensely, it’s a character deficit she shares with the former guy.

  11. CSK says:

    Indeed. I don’t care–or pay much attention–to what people wear, but it’s probably a good idea for women in congress, or any high public position, to look as professional as possible. If one of the male reps or senators showed up in a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, and flip-flops I’d eye him askance as well.

  12. Jay L Gischer says:

    This is the scene they’ve been maneuvering for six months to have. I read it as total kabuki. She gets to yell and shake her fists at other Democrats for the sake of voters back home who want to see her independence. With this she gets to do it in front of all the cameras.

    We didn’t have this stuff in the days of my youth because there wasn’t any Internet. There wasn’t any 24/7 news channels. There wasn’t a crazy competition for eyeballs and clicks. So getting attention meant getting on to one of the three major networks, and they were governed by the Fairness Doctrine.

    We might compare this to the days of Yellow Journalism, but everything is so much more intensified and faster moving.

  13. JohnSF says:

    I tend to loud shirts and scruffy jeans down the local pub.
    However, if I was ever to have the privilege of being in the Capitol of the United States of America in a formal capacity, even as a damn furriner, you can bet I’d be suited and booted.
    It’s just a question of having some f’in respect.

  14. Scott F. says:

    Once again, the discussion is all about Democrat versus Democrat!!

    If just 2 Republican moderates were to participate in good faith negotiations, Sinema would be as irrelevant as her behavior warrants.

  15. Gustopher says:

    @JohnSF: That one I like. Does it go together? Not really, but it’s an understated quirky compared to her usual “I bought 8 separate outfits and will wear part of each”

    Seriously, describe it, have someone else draw a picture based on the description and then marvel at how restrained her actual outfit is compared to the drawing.

    There’s no easy “wear a blue suit” option for women to look effortlessly professional, and they don’t make Garanimals in adult sizes.

  16. wr says:

    “My vote belongs to Arizona, and I do not trade my vote for political favors ”

    …because I can’t deposit political favors in the bank. Money talks and bullshit walks, friends, and I’ve got lots of buddies in the lobbying business who are eager to express their gratitude to me.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JohnSF: However, if I was ever to have the privilege of being in the Capitol of the United States of America in a formal capacity, even as a damn furriner, you can bet I’d be suited and booted.
    It’s just a question of having some f’in respect.

    Not me. I’d show up in my carpenter whites, dirty t-shirt, steel toed boots, and hard hat, just to say “I worked harder from 6-9 AM this morn than you do all month.” Besides, too many of them have zero respect for the institution they serve in. Why should I show them more?

  18. Ken_L says:

    I learned today that Sinema has close to a full-time teaching load at Arizona State University. Presumably she fits that into a busy schedule that includes internships at California wineries and triathlons in far-flung places like Puerto Rico, New Zealand and Hawaii. She really is living her best life.

    I imagine she lists ‘United States Senate membership’ as one of her hobbies in Who’s Who. I’m beginning to wonder if the president and her Democratic colleagues in the Senate are treating her with such deference because they’re terrified she’ll announce one day that Congress membership is incompatible with her lifestyle, and quits, costing them the majority.

  19. Anonne says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    No, she’s just taking care of her donors and she doesn’t care if she is given a vote of no confidence. She’s preparing for her post-Senate career.

  20. dazedandconfused says:

    It’s baffling. I had thought she was just seeking some ear marks or attention but her anger at the delaying of the vote is not consistent with bargaining, it’s anger that bargaining will continue. Assuming Sinema was aware that if the vote had been held on last Thursday (and is acting rationally), she wants the bills to die and as soon as possible. Most disconcerting.

  21. Ken_L says:

    @dazedandconfused: I’ve always read her position as (a) wanting “her” BIF to pass into law, so she can boast about all the great infrastructure she got for Arizona, while (b) dictating what, if anything, gets passed later by reconciliation. She’s flummoxed by the fact the rest of the party has called her bluff and said basically you only get (a) if you reach a good faith deal now about (b).