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Kyrsten Sinema says she’s surprised when people call her an ‘enigma’ and says inflation is a worry

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Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democratic centrist who has been a thorn in President Biden’s big spending agenda, on Friday said surging inflation justified her opposition and that she was baffled by critics who said her intentions were opaque.  

‘No one tells me what to do,’ she told the Washington Post in an interview.

She laid out her philosophy as the House passed a $1.75 trillion spending package, including green energy provisions and a stronger social safety net, sending it back to the Senate where she is one of the key votes that will make or break it. 

The legislation advances a raft of Democratic priorities. But Sinema has attracted the ire of her colleagues who say she has got her way in paring back the original $3.5 trillion proposal yet still won’t explain whether she supports it.

‘So, that’s not the agreement the president put out in his framework several weeks ago,’ the senator said. 

‘While I’m not going to comment on what’s happening in the House at this moment, I can just refer you back to the comments I made when the president put out his framework. … I’m looking forward to working with him to get this done.’ 

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz, was at the White House on Monday to see President Biden sign his infrastructure bill into law, but has been one of the main obstacles to the rest of the president's social spending agenda

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz, was at the White House on Monday to see President Biden sign his infrastructure bill into law, but has been one of the main obstacles to the rest of the president’s social spending agenda

In an interview with the Washington Post, Sinema said surprised when people say, 'Oh, she's an enigma,'yet offered no further pointers on what she wanted out of the Build Back Better bill

In an interview with the Washington Post, Sinema said surprised when people say, ‘Oh, she’s an enigma,’yet offered no further pointers on what she wanted out of the Build Back Better bill

Where the other Democratic holdout Sen. Joe Manchin has spelled out his red lines, Sinema has given few interviews or answered questions about what it is that she wants. 

Her position even provided fodder for Saturday Night Live.

‘What do I want from this bill?’ asked Cecily Strong, playing Sinema. ‘I’ll never tell.’

For her part, Sinema said she did not understand the criticism.

‘I’m always surprised when people say, ‘Oh, she’s an enigma,’ she said. 

‘I’m, like, not at all, actually. I’m very straightforward about what I believe in and why I’m doing what I do.’ 

She pointed to the recent surge in inflation – last week the Department of Labor said prices had risen 6.2 percent since October 2020, the highest rise in more than 30 years – as justification for her stance. 

She said she hoped it ‘helps people understand why I have been concerned about high levels of spending that are not targeted or are not efficient and effective.’ 

The White House claims that its spending will increase productivity – by improving transportation or allowing more people to return to workforce through better childcare provisions, for example – reducing inflationary pressures.

Sinema outlined her view just before House Democrats advanced the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better bill, sending it to the Senate where the Arizona senator holds a key vote

Sinema outlined her view just before House Democrats advanced the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better bill, sending it to the Senate where the Arizona senator holds a key vote

Sinema said spiking inflation justified her stance on paring back public spending, which she said could further overheat the economy and send prices rising further

Sinema said spiking inflation justified her stance on paring back public spending, which she said could further overheat the economy and send prices rising further

The White House says its Build Back Better agenda will not make prices worse but critics say Americans are already struggling with high gas prices and fear another $1.75 trillion of public spending will only drive up costs for families

The White House says its Build Back Better agenda will not make prices worse but critics say Americans are already struggling with high gas prices and fear another $1.75 trillion of public spending will only drive up costs for families

Sinema disagrees with that analysis.

‘The recent numbers on inflation are not a surprise,’ she said. 

‘We knew this was coming. And not everyone has paid attention to it or thought about it, but we’ve seen it coming. It’s been coming for some time.’ 

Her positions have long been interpreted as the work of a savvy politician who understands Arizona voters and who in 2018 found the centrist sweet spot for a state that had not elected a Democratic senator in 30 years.  

That is not good enough for the left of her party, who took particular umbrage in June when she publicly argued that the Senate should keep the filibuster. In a 50-50 Senate, it leaves much of Biden’s agenda vulnerable to Republicans’ blocking maneuvers.     

‘My opinion is that legislation that is crafted together, in a bipartisan way, is the legislation that’s most likely to pass and stand the test of time,’ she said in the interview. 

‘And I would certainly encourage my colleagues to use that effort to move forward.’

But Sinema rejected any idea that she had become an outlier in her own party, saying she takes positions that reflect the desires of her voters.

‘I do not feel that at all,’ she said. ‘And it’s because I live in Arizona … and folks are regular, everyday people in Arizona. Interestingly, people in other parts of the country don’t lead with their political beliefs.’

Other Democrats worry that time is slipping away. They may not control the House or the Senate beyond next year’s midterm election, and believe they may be about to squander the best chance in years to reshape the country.  

‘I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about that kind of grand talk,’ Sinema said. 

‘What I think about is: What are the folks in my state hungry for? What do they need? 

‘How can I make their lives a little bit better? How can I make government less of a problem in their life? 

‘And what are the things that I can do today to help solve that? And, you know, I think it works.’



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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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