September 20, 2021

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Sinema doesn’t support Democrats’ $3.5T bill, clinches bipartisan infrastructure deal – The Arizona Republic

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Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s reservations about the "human infrastructure" push could force Democrats to scale back the budget reconciliation bill.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema does not support Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget plan that aims to deliver major components of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda that Democrats hope to pass after moving a separate bipartisan infrastructure deal that Sinema negotiated.

Sinema, D-Ariz., told The Arizona Republic on Wednesday she had reviewed the Senate Budget Committee’s spending framework and has told Senate leadership and Biden that she supports many of its goals, including job growth and American competitiveness. 

“I have also made clear that while I will support beginning this process, I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion — and in the coming months, I will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration to strengthen Arizona’s economy and help Arizona’s everyday families get ahead,” Sinema said in a written statement.

Sinema’s reservations with the overall budget bill, along with those of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., suggests Democrats won’t have the votes to pass the more expansive plan, forcing Democrats to scale back the bill. 

All Senate Democrats would have to vote for the budget reconciliation bill for it to pass in the 50-50 chamber, where Vice President Kamala Harris would deliver a vote to break a tie. The package is a crucial component of Biden’s “human infrastructure” agenda that includes expanding Medicare and caregiving for the disabled and elderly, funding universal pre-kindergarten and paying for climate change initiatives. 

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., also wants to advance the vehicle to get the process started on the budget reconciliation package, he said in a statement to The Republic. He did not commit support to the top-line $3.5 trillion price tag. 

“A lot of work remains to continue rebuilding and growing our economy, which is why I want to see us move forward with this budget process,” Kelly said. “I look forward to continuing to work on the details to make sure we create more good-paying jobs and get Arizonans the skills they need to work them.”

Sinema’s position on the budget reconciliation bill comes the same day she and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, announced a major breakthrough on a separate $1.2 trillion bipartisan public works infrastructure plan.

That effort would remake the nation’s roads, bridges, airports, transit and water systems, and other projects.

For a time, that deal appeared stalled or on the verge of collapse, after negotiators missed deadlines and the effort did not attract enough GOP support last week on a procedural vote. 

Sinema met with Biden at the White House on Tuesday to brief him on that effort and she and 10 Democratic and Republican lawmakers sought to work through outstanding sticking points, including levels of funding for transit, broadband and water systems. 

Details on the package were not immediately available Wednesday. 

The breakthrough allows the Senate to vote as early as Wednesday to move forward with the package.

“While bringing both parties together can seem impossible these days, Arizonans elected me to do the hard work,” Sinema said in a statement to The Republic. “Our historic legislation would make the strongest investment in America’s critical infrastructure in a century — creating Arizona jobs, expanding economic opportunities for our state, securing our water future, and protecting our communities from wildfires.”

Kelly, who also helped shape the bipartisan infrastructure bill, said it would “invest in our roads and bridges, expand broadband, and improve western water infrastructure and forest management, making Arizona more resilient to drought and wildfires.”

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