Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema was the only Democrat and one of just two senators to skip Vice President Kamala Harris’s bipartisan dinner for women of the Senate on Tuesday.
Ms Sinema’s absence at the dinner, attended by 22 senators at the Naval Observatory where the vice president has a residence and office, comes just days after she and Senator Joe Manchin were the targets of rare public criticism by President Joe Biden regarding his legislative agenda.
The senator gave no explanation for her absence on social media, and her office did not immediately return a request for comment from The Independent.
The other absence at the dinner was that of Sen Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Mississippi Republican and frequent critic of the Biden administration.
Mr Biden swiped at Ms Sinema and Mr Manchin during remarks as part of a national address following his meeting with survivors of the Tulsa race massacre last week, accusing them of voting with the GOP despite both senators voting in support of the administration’s Covid-19 relief package and indicating that they will work with the administration on infrastructure and voting rights legislation as well.
“I hear all the folks on TV saying why doesn’t Biden get this done?” the president said last Tuesday in Oklahoma.
“Well, because Biden only has a majority of effectively four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate, with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends,” he continued.
The rare rebuke came as the administration is navigating fraught waters on Capitol Hill in the effort to pass a bipartisan infrastructure package after some elements of the White House’s $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan and $1.8 trillion American Families Plan are passed through the budget reconciliation process.
Such a process would require the votes of all 50 Democratic senators for the reconciliation package, as well as the votes of 10 Republicans for the later bipartisan bill.
Photos of the dinner at Ms Harris’s residence shared by attendees Tuesday evening showed the crowd of senators dining on a menu that included mahi-mahi, wine from Ms Harris’s home state of California, and homemade cheese puffs which Sen Debbie Stabenow of Michigan reported that Ms Harris made herself.
Our Vice President even made the cheese puffs herself!— Sen. Debbie Stabenow (@SenStabenow) June 16, 2021
And they were so good! pic.twitter.com/hK0pgonBTA
At the dinner, Ms Harris was seated next to Sen Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a key swing-vote Republican, and Washington Sen Patty Murray, the Senate’s third-most senior Democrat and a reliable supporter of the administration.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies