Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) was confronted Monday at the airport by a woman who walked in close proximity and told the lawmaker to vote for Democrats’ $3.5 trillion climate change legislation.
The airport provocation is the second time protestors have confronted Sinema and insisted she vote in favor of President Joe Biden’s social services and climate change package. Earlier this month, Sinema was followed into a bathroom at Arizona State University by four people who wanted her to vote for immigration reform to give citizenship to illegal immigrants who were brought to the country as children.
The most recent confrontation shows Sinema walking briskly with two men, talking to one, when the climate advocate approaches her and walks closely next to her and says, “I’m from Tucson, Arizona, and I’m wondering, I know you’ve met with dozens of lobbyists—”
Sinema tells the woman, “Please don’t touch me.” Sinema then continues talking to the man next to her. The woman responds, “I did not touch you.”
The female “constituent” then continues: “I know you’re meeting with dozens of lobbyists and talking with corporate donors about the package.” The woman urges Sinema to answer her and says her family and people are suffering and she can help by voting for Biden’s climate change provisions.
Sinema has been one of two Democrat senators who has raised concerns about the spending in her party’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package that would broaden federal social welfare programs and mandate a move to “clean” energy to combat climate change.
Because the U.S. Senate is split evenly, with 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats, Sinema’s vote has become crucial to passing any legislation. But Sinema has been adamant that she does not want to spend trillions more, nor does she agree with the Democrat’s tax revenue plan.
For weeks, Sinema has reportedly told colleagues that she will not support an increase in the corporate or income tax rate, leaving Democrats scrambling to find new revenue schemes.
After months of no comment, Sinema’s office confirmed these reports Friday. John LaBombard, a spokesman for Sinema, said that the senator “is committed to ensuring everyday families can get ahead and that we continue creating jobs.”
“She has told her colleagues and the president that simply raising tax rates will not in any way address the challenge of tax avoidance or improve economic competitiveness,” he explained.
While the majority of Democrat senators have fallen in line with Biden’s economic agenda, Sinema and moderate Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) have said they will not vote for trillions more in spending, causing Democrats to renegotiate the cost and provisions in the final reconciliation bill.
Sinema condemned her own party for its “inexcusable” failure to hold a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure plan after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) canceled the vote, stating that “more time is needed.”
The left-wing Congressional Progressive Caucus, a bloc of nearly 100 House members, doesn’t want to pass bipartisan infrastructure without the lower chamber first passing the mammoth budget piece—now said to be some $2 trillion—but moderates say the proposals should be considered separately and have urged a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Sinema was one of the Democratic senators who helped negotiate the smaller bipartisan infrastructure bill along with GOP senators and the white house during the summer.
Joseph Lord and Katabella Roberts contributed to this report.