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. 
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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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Sen. Bernie Sanders said he thinks President-elect Joe Biden isn’t doing enough to amplify progressive policies

biden.sanders
Former Vice President Joe Biden (left) and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont point fingers at each other during a Democratic Party presidential debate in Washington, DC, on March 15, 2020.

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders called out President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday, saying he thinks the president-elect isn’t doing enough to represent progressive policies and voices in his cabinet.
  • “Remember, I was the runner-up to Biden and we got a few votes, Elizabeth Warren got a few votes, a number of progressives won seats to Congress,” Sanders said.
  • “Those voices of millions and millions of people deserve representation in the Biden cabinet. And if you’re asking me if I’ve seen that at this point, I haven’t,” the Vermont senator continued.
  • Former Democratic presidential rival Pete Buttigieg, a moderate, is set to join the Biden cabinet as transportation secretary. Progressive voices like Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren still have a chance to join the incoming administration as Biden slowly fills up slots in his cabinet.
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Sen. Bernie Sanders called out President-elect Joe Biden, saying he thinks Biden isn’t doing enough to support progressive policies.

After winning the Democratic primaries over Sanders, progressives rallied behind Biden in the November election against President Donald Trump. The Electoral College affirmed Biden’s win in the 2020 election on Monday, though Trump still has yet to concede.

In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday, Sanders urged Biden to do more for the “progressive movement in this country” and have their voices be heard in the upcoming administration.

“Remember, I was the runner-up to Biden, and we got a few votes, Elizabeth Warren got a few votes. A number of progressives won seats to Congress,” Sanders said. “Those voices of millions and millions of people deserve representation in the Biden cabinet. And if you’re asking me if I’ve seen that at this point, I haven’t.”

He described other Biden cabinet picks, including former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, a former Democratic presidential rival, as “really good, really bright, really confident people.”

As Biden slowly fills up slots in his cabinet, progressive voices like Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are still in the running to fill roles in the incoming Biden-Harris administration.

 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another prominent progressive, made a similar call for Biden to recognize progressive demands and amplify such policies and voices during his term.

During an October interview with Jake Tapper, the New York congresswoman told CNN’s Jake Tapper that she thinks  it is “extremely important” for Sanders to be a part of the Biden-Harris administration.

“I think a lot of people kind of misunderstand about the progressive movement that it wasn’t a slogan when Bernie ran on saying ‘not me, us,'” she said at the time, adding that she thinks it is also “critically important that the Biden administration appoint progressive leaders, whether it’s in Labor, it’s in Treasury, whether it’s secretary of Education, et cetera.”

At the end of October, Warren also reportedly planned on asking Biden to join his cabinet as treasury secretary. However, Biden announced last month that former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen would be his nominee for the position.

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