Progressives slam Kyrsten Sinema for infrastructure package 'watered down' by Exxon lobbying influence

Progressives slam Kyrsten Sinema for infrastructure package 'watered down' by Exxon lobbying influence

Although Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has polled relatively well among independents, moderates and Never Trump conservatives in her state, the centrist Democrat has been drawing a great deal of criticism from the progressive wing of her party — and one of the things that is inspiring a great deal of debate is her role in a bipartisan infrastructure package that appears to have enough Republican support to meet the filibuster's 60-vote requirement. Right-wing Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, in an op-ed published by NBC News' website on July 28, praised Sinema for her role in the deal. But some progressives believe that Sinema, along with Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, has agreed to an infrastructure package that is seriously watered down.

Journalist Sarah Zhang, in an article published by Truthout on July 30, stresses that the infrastructure package Sinema agreed to is too compromised for its own good.

"The bipartisan group of senators overseeing the negotiations cut about $29 billion in new spending from the previous draft, eliminating $20 billion of what little climate spending was left in the bill, E&E News reported," Zhang explains. "Compared to the previous draft of the bill announced in June, the latest and final draft of the bill removes $10 billion from public transit spending and $5 billion from electric school bus funding. It also effectively cut electric vehicle charging infrastructure in half from the previous draft from $15 billion to $7.5 billion."

Zhang adds, "The cuts are yet another instance of drastic reductions that the bipartisan group has repeatedly made to climate provisions from Biden's original proposal. Electric vehicle funding fell by nearly 96% from the first proposal of $174 billion, and transportation funding in general took a $263 billion cut."

Zhang notes that President Joe Biden has "touted the bill as a success" but adds that from a climate change standpoint, the "infrastructure negotiations have done more to frustrate Democratic lawmakers and progressive movements than to give them something to celebrate." And progressive Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City has complained that Exxon lobbyists "bragged about how much influence they had in this deal."

"Democrats were hoping to tack on climate and other provisions cut from the negotiations onto a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that they could pass through a simple majority vote as long as all Democratic senators were on board," Zhang writes. "However, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's (D-Arizona) recently announced opposition to that plan, throwing progressive support for watered-down reconciliation and infrastructure bills into question."

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