Kyrsten Sinema shuts down rumours she might become a Republican

The conservative Democrat from Arizona spoke to Politico about frequent criticisms from progressives

Eric Garcia
Wednesday 17 November 2021 14:15
Krysten Sinema turns head wearing denim vest in Senate

US Sen Kyrsten Sinema swatted down rumors that despite frequently working with Republicans, particularly in passing the recent bipartisan infrastructure bill, the conservative Arizona Democrat has no intentions of becoming a Republican.

Ms Sinema granted a rare interview with Politico, where she “No. Why would I do that?” when asked about flipping her party affiliation. At the same time, Republican Whip Sen John Thune confirmed he had spoken with her multiple times about joining the GOP.

Ms Sinema is frequently seen conversing with Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom many Democrats loathe.

“He has a dry sense of humor. It's underrated,” she said of the Senate Republican leader.

The criticisms come as Ms Sinema has irritated many progressive Democrats, starting when she opposed a $15 minimum wage during votes for the American Rescue Plan while giving a curtsy. But grumbles grew over time given her continued support for the filibuster, her opposition to spending $3.5 trillion for Democrats’ proposed social spending bill, as well as opposing any tax increases in the bill.

But Ms Sinema faulted Democrats for not being realistic about what they can achieve.

“You’re either honest or you’re not honest. So just tell the truth and be honest and deliver that which you can deliver,” she told Politico. “There's this growing trend of people in both political parties who promise things that cannot be delivered, in order to get the short-term political gain. And I believe that it damages the long-term health of our democracy.”

Ms Sinema also said that despite Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer touting a unified Democratic front, she said differences within the Democratic caucus are natural.

“I've been concerned at the push that happens in both parties, this push to have no disagreements. To only have unity or to only speak with one voice. And some will say, ‘Oh, that is our strength,’” she said. “Having some disagreement is normal. It is real, it is human. And it's an opportunity for us as mature beings to work through it.”

Despite the criticisms, Ms Sinema defended the right to protest against her, except in the case when immigration activists followed her into a bathroom, which she said “unfairly and illegally” victimised students she teaches at Arizona State University.

Ms Sinema spoke at the White House on Monday when President Joe Biden’s signed the bipartisan infrastructure bill she helped negotiate, where she defended her approach to working with Republicans.

“How many times have we heard that bipartisanship isn’t possible anymore, or that important policy can only happen on a party-line?” she said. “Our legislation proves the opposite. And the Senators who negotiated this legislation show how to get things done.”

But that same day, Rev Al Sharpton criticised Sen Sinema and fellow conservative Democrat Sen Joe Manchin of West Virginia at the White House and said the two need to ditch their attachment to the filibuster to pass voting rights.

“There is no way that we cannot get around the filibuster if we cannot tell Manchin and Sinema to stay in line,” Mr Sharpton told reporters.

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