Bernie Sanders Calls Kyrsten Sinema a “Corporate Democrat Who Sabotaged Important Legislation”

Bernie Sanders slams Kyrsten Sinema as 'corporate Democrat' as GOP senator  says the Arizona Democrat's switch to independent doesn't 'functionally'  change anything in the upper chamber | Flipboard

Bernie Sanders and Kyrsten Sinema

Dear Commons Community,

Senator Bernie Sanders said yesterday he believes that part of why Sen. Kyrsten Sinema decided to leave the Democratic Party is because her constituents have lost faith in her, adding that the Arizona lawmaker “helped sabotage” some significant legislation.

Sinema’s decision, announced Friday, to switch from Democrat to independent “probably has a lot to do with politics back in Arizona,” the Vermont independent told Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“I think the Democrats there are not all that enthusiastic about somebody who helped sabotage some of the most important legislation that protects the interests of working families and voting rights and so forth. So, I think it really has to do with her political aspirations for the future in Arizona,” Sanders said.

Democrats have criticized several moments in Sinema’s voting record, such as when she opposed ditching the filibuster ― even to pass voting rights legislation ― helped block a $15 minimum wage effort, and opposed closing a tax loophole that benefits the ultrarich. She and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) have become known as major obstacles to passing President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.

“But for us, I think nothing much has changed in terms of the functioning of the U.S. Senate,” Sanders continued. “The good news is that we now have 51 votes. We will have the majority on committees. It means that we can go forward and start protecting the interests of working families and deal with the reality that we are increasingly living in an oligarchy, where the billionaire class and large corporations control almost every aspect of our country.”

Sanders is likely correct that Sinema’s party switch won’t change much in the Senate. While Sanders and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) both caucus with Democrats, Sinema has not outright said she would do the same ― only that she will maintain her chairmanship of two subcommittees. This helps keep Senate Democrats in the majority.

“It probably won’t surprise you when I tell you I’m not trying to be like anyone else,” Sinema told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday when comparing herself to other independent senators. “What I’m trying to do is be true to my values and the values of my state. So I think everyone should make their own decisions about where they fit or where they don’t fit. I’m going to keep doing exactly what I do, which is just stay focused on the work and ignore all the noise.”

Sanders made sure to note, however, that he thinks Sinema’s values include prioritizing corporate interests over her working class constituents, and that she’s not capable of taking on powerful special interests in Congress.

“She is a corporate Democrat, who has, in fact, along with Sen. Manchin, sabotaged enormously important legislation,” he said.

While Sinema’s party switch does not significantly impact the Senate, it will greatly affect GOP odds in the 2024 elections. The senator was expected to face tough primary challenges from Democrats like Rep. Ruben Gallego (Ariz.). As an independent candidate, Sinema now likely won’t face a primary challenger at all.

This, however, means that Arizona voters might have to deal with a three-way race that could divide the non-Republican votes between Sinema and a Democratic candidate ― making it easier for the GOP to win the crucial Senate seat.

“You know, I don’t make decisions based on what the easy road or the tough road is,” Sinema said. “I have always tried to make decisions based on what I think is right. And for me, it’s very important that we have a discussion at home in Arizona and here in the nation’s capital about reducing the partisanship and just focus on solving the challenges that we face in America.”

It will be interesting to see how Sinema’s position plays out from now through 2024.


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