Reports detail the signs that Kyrsten Sinema is negotiating in ‘bad faith’ on infrastructure bills

Reports detail the signs that Kyrsten Sinema is negotiating in ‘bad faith’ on infrastructure bills

Although Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona played a key role in the negotiations with Republicans for a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, the centrist Democratic senator has maintained that she will not vote for a separate $3.5 trillion "human infrastructure" bill. Sinema's actions are the focus of two articles published this week: a column by liberal Washington Post opinion writer Greg Sargent, and a piece by Talking Points Memo Editor Josh Marshall.

Some pundits are arguing that progressive Democrats in Congress are being unreasonable by saying that they won't vote for the $1 trillion bill unless the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill is given serious consideration. But Sargent disagrees, saying that Sinema is the one who is being rigid.

"Democratic leaders are negotiating with Sinema to win her support for a broad framework on the bigger bill, which would pass by the simple-majority reconciliation process," Sargent explains. "If she and Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) publicly commit to an ambitious reconciliation measure, House progressives might help pass the smaller bill when it gets a vote on Thursday. Progressives are temporarily withholding support because they fear that if infrastructure passes now, Sinema, Manchin and some House centrists might never support a good reconciliation bill — blowing up the centerpiece of the Democratic Party's agenda for securing our future."

Sinema, Sargent notes, opposes the $3.5 trillion bill's "overall spending level but won't say what she would support."

"The key point here is her apparent refusal to say what she's for in the reconciliation bill," Sargent stresses. "First off, this confirms that progressives are right to worry that if Democrats pass the infrastructure bill first, there's no telling whether Sinema — or Manchin and other centrists — will be there to support something substantial in reconciliation. Sinema not only won't say what she wants; she apparently doesn't want to have to specify it at all until the smaller bill passes."

Sargent continues, "Second, note that when progressives ask Sinema to say what she wants, they are in effect asking what she wants in concessions from them. Yet Sinema won't specify this. It's almost an insistence that the infrastructure bill must pass entirely on her terms. That seems almost designed to prevent any kind of accommodation — a level of bad faith that's genuinely hard to fathom."

In TPM, Marshall notes that some Democrats in Congress believe that Sinema is "not negotiating about any of this in good faith."

"Joe Manchin is a huge obstacle for Democrats pushing their agenda," Marshall writes. "But the Manchin problem is still very different from the Sinema problem."

According to Marshall, "If the upshot of the Biden presidency is that Democrats delivered the votes for Kyrsten Sinema's infrastructure bill vanity project and got nothing else, it will be profoundly self-discrediting for the Democratic Party…. It is perverse and bizarre since the Democrats, though tenuously, now have unified control of the government rather than being a beleaguered opposition with no holds on any levers of power. How we've gotten to the point that they cannot collectively control the outcome — well, that's crazy. But that's where we are. Largely because of Kyrsten Sinema."

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