INTERVIEW: Joe Manchin says he’s ‘very much concerned’ about inflation and the national debt. He’s not committing to Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending plan yet.

Joe Manchin at Congress hearing
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

  • Sen. Joe Manchin says he’s concerned about rising inflation and the national debt.
  • “We have to be fiscally responsible,” the West Virginia Democrat told Insider.
  • Manchin didn’t rule out backing a $3.5 trillion party-line spending plan after another moderate came out against it.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he hasn’t decided whether to back the $3.5 trillion price tag of a planned Democratic-only spending package, a major priority of President Joe Biden’s.

The key Democratic moderate said in a Friday interview that several factors would weigh into his decision, among them the increasing cost of goods and the nation’s growing debt pile. The price of gasoline, used cars, trucks, and other services has shot up as the economy started reopening and run into various crimps in supply chains.

“I’m very much concerned about inflation in our country,” Manchin told Insider, stressing how much he’s been focused on infrastructure spending and its potential costs. “I’m concerned about the debt that we’re carrying and our ability to compete on a global basis … we have to be fiscally responsible.”

On Wednesday, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona came out against the proposed price tag of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, although she committed to advancing what’s known as a budget resolution. Adopting that would pave the way for Democrats to start drafting the party-line bill, which can clear the Senate with a simple 51-vote majority instead of the 60 required for most legislation in the modern Senate to avert the filibuster.

Every Senate Democrat must stick together for the package to succeed, and Manchin is onboard for now. He told CNN on Thursday he would vote for the resolution, allowing Democrats to approve a social spending package on their own – possibly in September. He told CNN that he was “keeping an open mind” on the $3.5 trillion price tag.

The West Virginia Democrat told Insider he’s in constant communication with Sinema about her views. “We speak all the time,” Manchin said.

‘I’m not going to put any figures on anything’

Manchin touted the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal, which will pour federal spending into roads, highways, bridges, broadband, and water. He was one of five Democratic negotiators who hashed out the plan with five Senate Republicans over the span of roughly a month. The plan has the full backing of Biden and top Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Its passage would set the stage for Senate Democrats to jumpstart the reconciliation process before they leave for the monthlong August recess. Manchin said his support will hinge on the plan’s contents, and didn’t rule out backing its substantial cost. Democrats want to stuff it with measures like free community college, affordable childcare, and national paid leave.

“We have a good piece of legislation that has a lot of good work,” he said. “I think out of respect for all my colleagues who’ve been working on the other budget resolution, we should give that a look and be able work on it in a really productive way.”

He added that he’s “not going to put any figures on anything” until he’s had a chance to review the full bill.

Still, Manchin suggested that his time has been overwhelmingly consumed by negotiating the bipartisan infrastructure deal, and said he hasn’t decided whether to back renewing a federal eviction ban that ends in a day. Democrats are rushing to pass a bill to renew it after Biden urged a last-minute extension.

“I’ve been wrapped up in this so much, I haven’t even seen” it, he told Insider about his work on infrastructure and his potential support for an eviction moratorium.

“We’re gonna take a very serious look at it,” he said.

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McConnell just said he’ll vote to advance Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure deal in a major test vote

mitch mcconnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., does a cable news interview before the start of a two-week recess, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 23, 2021.

  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would vote to advance the bipartisan infrastructure deal.
  • The procedural vote will advance a vehicle of the bill, which will later be replaced with legislative text.
  • McConnell’s approval comes after Sens. Portman and Sinema met with President Biden last month to negotiate the framework of the infrastructure deal.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that he would vote to advance the bipartisan infrastructure bill that GOP lawmakers have staunchly opposed in recent weeks.

The Senate is scheduled to hold a procedural vote to advance a vehicle for the bill on Wednesday evening, which will later be replaced by the amendments proposed by GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat from Arizona.

Portman and Sinema met with President Joe Biden last month to negotiate the framework of the infrastructure deal, later announcing they had reached an agreement.

“Based on a commitment from Leader Schumer to Senators Portman and Sinema that the Portman-Sinema amendment to be filed will be the substitute amendment, I will vote to proceed to the bipartisan infrastructure bill,” McConnell tweeted Wednesday evening.

McConnell’s support will likely ensure the agreement gets enough Republican votes to advance. A final vote on the bill could come sometime in the next two weeks.

The bipartisan agreement is the product of nearly a month of tumultuous negotiations between Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans and the Biden administration. It will provide nearly $550 billion in fresh funding to repair roads and bridges, along with upgrading broadband connections nationwide.

It will by covered by a blend of revenue sources including unspent coronavirus relief funding, new cryptocurrency tax enforcement, and some corporate user fees, per a White House fact sheet.

Democrats want to move that package in tandem with a $3.5 trillion party-line spending package that will contain many social initiatives strongly opposed by Republicans. That will embark on the arduous reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority vote and all 50 Senate Democrats to stick together.

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AOC on Sinema blocking $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill: ‘Good luck tanking your own party’s investment’

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on Monday, August 24, 2020.

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter after Sen. Krysten Sinema came out against $3.5 trillion in Democratic infrastructure spending.
  • The New York congressman criticized moderate Sinema for “tanking” investment in childcare and climate action.
  • Ocasio-Cortez previously called the $3.5 trillion deal a “progressive victory.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took aim at Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, a fellow Democrat, after Sinema came out against her party’s $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill.

Sinema told the Arizona Republic in a statement that she thinks the bill is too costly, and “will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration to strengthen Arizona’s economy and help Arizona’s everyday families get ahead.”

Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to call out the Arizona Democrat, writing: “Good luck tanking your own party’s investment on childcare, climate action, and infrastructure while presuming you’ll survive a 3 vote House margin – especially after choosing to exclude members of color from negotiations and calling that a ‘bipartisan accomplishment.'”

Ocasio-Cortez previously criticized the lack of diversity in the bipartisan group, arguing that it leaves marginalized communities behind.

Sinema is a key moderate for the Democrats, and a main negotiator in the bipartisan infrastructure deal. A group of Republican senators said earlier today that they had reached a bipartisan deal with the White House. That deal cut $30 billion from the new spending proposed, lowering funding for public transit and slashing an infrastructure bank meant to foster private and public partnership. Sinema’s opposition will force Senate Democrats to make cuts from the $3.5 trillion agreement they struck earlier this month. It will need all 50 Democrats in the Senate to stick together so it clears the arduous reconciliation process.

AOC is not the only progressive sounding off on the prospects of a slimmed down Democrat-only spending package. Rep. Mondaire Jones of New York also tweeted: “Without a reconciliation package that meets this moment, I’m a no on this bipartisan deal.”

At the time, the New York congresswoman said that $3.5 trillion agreement was an “enormous victory,” although she would have preferred a larger package.

“This bill is absolutely a progressive victory,” Ocasio-Cortez said, according to reporter Kevin Frey of NY1. “If it wasn’t for progressives in the House, we probably would be stuck with that tiny, pathetic bipartisan bill alone.”

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GOP lawmakers caught on video telling activists to thank Manchin and Sinema for not blowing up the filibuster: ‘Without that we would be dead meat’

andy biggs
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), votes no on the first article of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2019.

  • GOP congressmen were caught on tape telling activists to thank Manchin and Sinema for holding firm on the filibuster.
  • “Without that we would be dead meat and this thing would be done,” a GOP congressman said.
  • The filibuster has emerged as a barrier to a major chunk of Biden’s agenda.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Several Republican lawmakers were secretly filmed imploring conservative activists to flood a pair of centrist Democrats with messages of gratitude for holding firm on the filibuster, a 60-vote threshold that most bills need to clear the Senate.

It’s the latest video posted by Democratic activist Lauren Windsor, only days after posting another one showing a GOP congressman calling for “18 months of chaos” to jam Democrats. Both sets of remarks were made at a June 29 Patriot Voices event attended by a large group of conservatives.

In the newest video, Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona said Democrats were “pushing as hard as they can” to enact President Joe Biden’s agenda.

“Fortunately for us, the filibuster’s still in effect in the Senate. Without that we would be dead meat and this thing would be done,” he said in the video. “Then we’d be having a little more frantic discussion than we’d be having today.”

He went on: “But thank goodness for Sinema and Joe Manchin,” referring to Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both of whom have resisted a mounting chorus of Democratic calls to abolish the filibuster.

Then Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida urged activists in attendance to call the pair of centrist Democrats and thank them for refusing to blow up the filibuster.

“All of you in this room, people at home on Zoom, let me tell you right now, if you want to do one thing to keep the republic afloat, call Joe Manchin’s office, call Kyrsten Sinema’s office,” he said.

Donald’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Biggs’s office declined to comment on the record.

The filibuster has emerged as a barrier to a substantial chunk of Biden’s agenda on the economy, voting rights, policing reform, and immigration. Given Democrats’ 50-50 majority that relies on a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, many in the party are calling to get rid of it so they can pass legislation without Republicans.

But Manchin and Sinema have dug in on preserving it. “There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” Manchin wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in April.

Rick Santorum, a former Republican senator and 2016 GOP primary candidate, also attended the event. He acknowledged the difficulty Republicans face rolling back social programs once they’re in place – a possible reference to their failed attempt to scrap the Affordable Care Act under President Donald Trump in 2017, and others proposing cuts to safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security.

“It’s a lot easier to pass giveaways than to take them away. And everybody thinks, ‘Oh, well you know, we’ll just take them away,'” he said in the video. “No we won’t! No we won’t.”

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Sen. Kyrsten Sinema slammed ‘false pressure’ to reach a filibuster-proof 60 votes in newly unearthed 2010 video

Kyrsten Sinema
Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

  • Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, criticized the “false pressure” to reach a 60-vote supermajority to pass legislation in 2010.
  • Sinema, then a state representative, suggested that the filibuster forced Democrats to “kowtow” to moderate lawmakers.
  • Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin are the only two Democrats who’ve vocalized staunch opposition to eliminating the filibuster.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, criticized the “false pressure” to reach a 60-vote supermajority to pass legislation in comments to supporters 11 years ago, according to a 2010 video newly unearthed by the progressive media organization More Perfect Union.

Then an Arizona state representative, Sinema told the audience that she supported Democrats using reconciliation to pass major legislation, including healthcare reform, with just 51 votes. She also criticized then-Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut who caucused with the Democratic Party, and then-Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, for being too moderate.

“In the Senate, we no longer have 60 votes,” Sinema told the audience. “Some would argue we never had 60 because one of those was Joseph Lieberman.”

She added that without 60 Democratic-voting lawmakers in the Senate, “there’s none of this pressure, this false pressure, to get to 60.”

She went on, “So what this means is that the Democrats can stop kowtowing to Joe Lieberman and, instead, seek other avenues to move forward with health reform.”

A spokesperson for Sinema didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

As one of the most moderate Democrats in the Senate, and one of the only who vocally opposes eliminating the filibuster, Sinema plays somewhat of a similar role in the chamber as Lieberman did in 2010.

Sinema now argues that the filibuster is essential in protecting American democracy, and she recently argued in a Washington Post op-ed that the 60-vote rule “compels moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings between opposing policy poles.”

She’s faced significant blowback from fellow Democrats and progressive activists who want to get rid of the 60-vote rule in order to pass much of President Joe Biden’s agenda.

The senator argued that her position on the filibuster has been consistent during her tenure in Washington.

“I held the same view during three terms in the U.S. House, and said the same after I was elected to the Senate in 2018,” she said. “If anyone expected me to reverse my position because my party now controls the Senate, they should know that my approach to legislating in Congress is the same whether in the minority or majority.”

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Biden throws support behind $1 trillion infrastructure deal with GOP as Democrats press for separate party-line package

Joe Biden thumbs up
President Joe Biden.

  • Biden struck a deal on a $1 trillion infrastructure plan with the GOP on Thursday.
  • “We have a deal,” Biden told reporters outside the White House.
  • It’s expected to encompass hard infrastructure like roads and bridges.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden has thrown his support behind a $1 trillion infrastructure deal negotiated by a Senate group of Republican and Democrats, a major step towards his goal of working with the GOP despite their opposition to the majority of his agenda.

“We have a deal,” Biden said Thursday after an Oval Office meeting with bipartisan group of 10 senators. “We made serious compromises on both ends.”

The Senate faction came out strongly in favor of the plan. “It was essential to show the Senate can function, that we can work in a bipartisan way,” Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said. Other negotiators championed the package as well.

The framework has not been made public, but it’s expected to encompass physical infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Around $550 billion of it would constitute new spending beyond existing programs. That represents around a quarter of Biden’s initial $2.3 trillion plan unveiled in late March.

The bipartisan group of 10 lawmakers is evenly divided between the parties. GOP senators include Sens. Romney; Rob Portman of Ohio; Cassidy of Louisiana; Collins and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

The Democratic half is made up of Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia; Jon Tester of Montana; Mark Warner of Virginia; Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire; and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

But Democrats are poised to approve a follow-up economic package sometime in the late summer or early fall.

“There ain’t no infrastructure bill without the reconciliation bill,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference, referring to a larger package that would pass along party lines, likely without any GOP votes.

Read more: These documents circulating on Capitol Hill show Bernie Sanders’ and Democrats’ $6 trillion backup plan if Republicans reject Biden’s current infrastructure proposal

Many Democrats, particularly progressives, are pressing for quick passage of a separate economic package focused on Biden’s spending initiatives. He’s introduced a plan for tuition-free community college and affordable childcare, along with an extension of monthly cash payments for parents.

“We know what we need to get done – roads, bridges, childcare, clean energy,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren told reporters. “That’s one package altogether.”

Asked by Insider about her preferred timeline for approving a party-line reconciliation plan, she emphasized “soon” and said July.

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Infrastructure talks enter last-ditch stage as both Republicans and Democrats eye gas tax increase

Mitt Romney congress
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah.

  • Sen. Mitt Romney told Insider a bipartisan group is weighing indexing the gas tax to inflation.
  • The gas tax hasn’t been raised since 1993.
  • Other Democrats appeared noncommittal, reflecting the delicate state of the talks.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Republicans and Democrats are eyeing a potential increase to the gas tax as both parties entered a chaotic last-ditch effort to strike a bipartisan infrastructure deal after a month of failed discussions between President Joe Biden and Senate GOP

The bipartisan group is in the early stages of assembling a plan they hope will draw at least 60 votes in the evenly-divided Senate. The cohort is equally split between Republicans and Democrats.

It includes Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Rob Portman of Ohio, as well as Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona; and Jon Tester of Montana. The group emerged after Biden pulled the plug on negotiations with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, who had been Republicans’ chief negotiator since April.

Romney told Insider on Thursday that the new working group was weighing indexing the gas tax to inflation. The 18-cent levy hasn’t been raised since 1993. “It keeps it at the same value that it has today,” the Utah Republican said.

The White House has previously said bumping the gas tax was off limits given Biden’s pledge to not hike taxes for households earning under $400,000. They did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But the idea gained some momentum among Democrats when Sen. Dick Durbin of Iowa, second-ranked in the chamber, said he believed it “ultimately has to happen.”

“I look at it as a user fee. We pay taxes on gasoline because we want to drive our cars on safe roads,” Durbin told reporters.

Still, other Democrats in the group like Tester appeared noncommittal. “It’s not one of my favorite things, but we’ll see what the entire deal looks like,” he said in an interview. “I gotta see it in the context of everything, see what stays in and drops out.”

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, another Democrat in the group, declined to answer whether he supported it, a sign of the delicate state of the negotiations. “I actually think it’s better … until the cake is fully baked, to keep the ingredients quiet,” he told Insider.

Seth Hanlon, a tax expert and senior fellow at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress, projected that indexing the gas tax to inflation would generate between $30 billion to $35 billion over a decade.

“It would be borne by consumers,” Hanlon told Insider. “We could get roughly the same revenue by rolling back the 2017 corporate tax cut by a fraction of a percentage point.”

He added that indexing the gas tax could have “modestly positive environmental effects,” though not if it’s only paired with spending focused on physical infrastructure and if it omits climate.

Biden’s two-part economic plans amount to $4 trillion in fresh spending on physical infrastructure like roads and bridges, as well as caregiving, cash payments, universal pre-K, community college, and a wide range of measures.

Both parties remain far apart on the scope of an infrastructure bill and how to pay for it. Other Republicans are increasingly signaling that climate provisions wouldn’t be included in their package.

Biden, along with congressional Democrats, are pushing clean energy tax incentives, a national system of electric vehicle charging stations, and federal funds to retrofit homes.

“If they’re looking for a line item that says ‘climate,’ they’re not going to see that,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said of Democrats.

A few Senate Democrats have stepped up their criticism of the bipartisan talks in recent days, warning that such talks risk omitting measures to combat climate change in an infrastructure deal. Another top Democrat threatened to withhold his vote if climate wasn’t sufficiently addressed.

“On a big infrastructure bill, to pass on climate altogether? No way!” Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, told Insider. “Think I’m blunt enough? No way.”

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Top Trump ally Lindsey Graham praises Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema for refusing to abolish the filibuster

lindsey graham transition of power
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC.

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham explicitly praised two Democratic senators for rejecting their party’s efforts to eliminate the filibuster.
  • Graham supported GOP’s successful effort to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominee confirmations.
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged his caucus to publicly praise the two Democratic lawmakers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican, explicitly praised two Democratic senators – Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona – for rejecting their party’s efforts to eliminate the Senate filibuster.

The chamber’s filibuster requires 60 votes to pass legislation and both Democrats have pledged to reject pressure from their own party and stand with Republicans to protect the rule.

“I want to thank Sen. Manchin and Sen. Sinema for rejecting the idea of changing the filibuster,” Graham said. “I’m asking no more of them than I ask of myself. So I appreciate what they’re doing for the Senate and for the country.”

But Graham, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, supported Republicans’ successful effort to eliminate the filibuster for votes on Supreme Court nominees.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged his caucus to publicly praise the two Democratic lawmakers, Politico reported last week. He was very complimentary of his colleagues in a recent interview.

“What they’ve been very forthright about is protecting the institution against pressures from their own party. I know what that’s like,” McConnell told Politico. “Every time I said no. And it’s nice that there are Democrats left who respect the institution and don’t want to destroy the very essence of the Senate.”

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Minimum-wage talks restart as progressive and moderate Democrats reportedly huddle with Chuck Schumer

Chuck Schumer Bernie Sanders
Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during a Capitol Hill press conference in 2018.

  • Democratic Senators are meeting on Tuesday to discuss a minimum wage increase, HuffPo reports.
  • The meeting will include all 7 moderate Democrats who voted against the increase in the stimulus.
  • Bernie Sanders of Vermont has been adamant that the minimum wage can be no less than $15 an hour.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Although a federal minimum wage increase to $15 an hour didn’t make it into the stimulus bill, Senate Democrats are meeting today to find a way to get it done somehow, a Democratic source told HuffPost.

According to the source, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will meet with the progressive senators who led the push for the $15 minimum wage increase, including Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Patty Murray of Washington, and Ron Wyden of Oregon. But the meeting will also include all seven moderate Democrats who voted against the $15 minimum wage hike: Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Chris Coons of Delaware, Tom Carper of Delaware, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, and Jon Tester of Montana.

When the Senate parliamentarian voted against including a minimum wage increase in the stimulus bill, Sanders – who co-sponsored a bill to raise the wage to $15 an hour by 2025 – promised he wouldn’t give up on efforts to get the job done.

“But let me be very clear: If we fail in this legislation, I will be back,” Sanders told reporters on March 1. “We’re going to keep going and, if it takes 10 votes, we’re going to raise that minimum wage very shortly.”

And in a call with reporters on Friday, progressive lawmakers, including Rep. Ro Khanna of California, joined labor leaders and activists to strategize how they could pass a minimum wage increase through Congress, whether by reconciliation or attaching it to a must-pass bill.

“There needs to be a clear plan, a clear strategy,” Khanna told The Washington Post in an interview. “It’s not enough to just say, well, we’re committed to this, we want to get it done.”

Manchin has previously said that a $15 minimum wage increase is too high and advocated for an $11 per hour increase instead. However, Sanders has remained adamant on achieving a $15 per hour increase to lift Americans out of poverty.

“In my mind, the great economic crisis that we face today is half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck,” Sanders said on Twitter on March 5. “And many millions of workers are, frankly, working for starvation wages. Raising the minimum wage is what the American people want, and it’s what we have got to do.”

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Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema votes against $15 minimum wage with a dramatic thumbs down

Democratic senators-elect Kyrsten Sinema (L) (D-AZ) and Jacky Rosen (R) (D-NV) walk to the office of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for a meeting at the U.S. Capitol November 13, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Democratic senators-elect Kyrsten Sinema (L) (D-AZ) and Jacky Rosen (R) (D-NV) walk to the office of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for a meeting at the U.S. Capitol November 13, 2018 in Washington, DC.

  • A video of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema dramatically indicating her “no” vote on a measure to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 incensed progressives on Friday.
  • Sinema appeared to curtsy as she gave her thumbs-down to the Senate clerk, prompting some progressives to condemn her for appearing enthusiastic. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, dramatically indicated her “no” vote with a thumbs-down to the Senate clerk on a measure to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour on Friday.

Some progressives attacked the moderate Democrat for appearing enthusiastic about denying tens of millions of Americans. Sinema’s somewhat theatrical move called to mind Arizona Sen. John McCain’s famous thumbs-down vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act in 2017. 

An adviser to Democrat Julian Castro tweeted alongside a video of Sinema’s vote, “Did Sinema really have vote against a $15 minimum wage for 24 million people like this?” Rep. Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin progressive, tweeted out a statement Sinema made in 2014 supporting a minimum wage increase to $10.74. 

“A full-time minimum-wage earner makes less than $16k a year,” Sinema wrote. “This one’s a no-brainer. Tell Congress to #RaiseTheWage!” 

Pocan commented, “Just wow.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democrat, retweeted the message. 

Sinema was one of seven Democratic senators and one independent who voted against hiking the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025 as part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package. All 50 Republicans oppose the measure and it appeared to be set to fail on Friday. 

But Sinema and other Democratic senators who voted down the measure have suggested they’d be open to passing a higher minimum wage after the relief bill is passed. 

“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,” Sinema said in a statement.

More than 800,000 people in Sinema’s home state earn less than $15 per hour and will be impacted by Sinema’s vote, a recent study found.  

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