Sen. Kyrsten Sinema took a victory lap Monday, saying the $1.2 trillion physical infrastructure bill passed by the House of Representatives is evidence her approach to bipartisan legislating is backed by the American public.
The package, which delivers key components of President Joe Biden’s agenda, makes historic investments in the nation’s deteriorating roads, bridges, airports, water systems and ports-of-entry, and will expand access to broadband internet in urban centers and far-flung areas of the state and across the nation left behind in the 21st century.
Sinema, D-Ariz., co-brokered the deal in the Senate with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, in a process that began more than eight months ago in the basement of the Capitol, where she, Portman and staffers huddled with what she called their “nerdy” spreadsheets and a long list of goals.
Along the way, 10 Democratic and Republican senators helped the bill pass the Senate only to see it languish in the House for months as Democrats wrangled over the separate human safety-net measure that Democrats are advancing through the budget reconciliation process. That process requires just a simple majority of support in a divided Congress.
The House passed the physical infrastructure bill late Friday, clearing the way for Biden’s signature. The president is expected to sign the bill in the coming weeks.
Next Sinema will turn her attention to ensuring the money, which includes $550 billion of new funding, is spent and that the money flows quickly to entities across the U.S., she said Monday in a call with Arizona reporters.
Some projects could begin in the next couple of months.
After the holidays, Sinema said she anticipates employing the same bipartisan across-the-aisle approach with the “Gang of 10” senators to move on other key issues, from immigration reform to hiking the federal minimum wage.
The group has met several times to discuss its next round of bipartisan work, she said.
Sinema said she is unmoved by criticism by the left wing of the Democratic Party and some moderates who have blasted her demand to scale back the budget reconciliation bill and threatened to recruit primary challengers to run against her in 2024.
Sinema's comments came after Republicans won the Virginia governor’s race and saw a surge in support in New Jersey, voting trends that signal trouble for Biden and Democrats ahead of next year’s 2022 midterm elections, when the party that holds the White House traditionally loses seats in Congress.
“The lesson that I take from (the) elections, whether they be my own or others, is that folks — they expect results,” Sinema said. “They’re less interested in the talking heads on television and the partisan talking points on cable TV. They’re less interested in the tweets. What they are interested in is who is delivering results that make a difference in their lives. And so what I pledge to you and to folks throughout Arizona is to continue to do what I’ve always done, which is just put my head down, stay focused on the work, and deliver results for Arizonans.”
On the budget reconciliation front, Sinema said she continues to work with the Biden administration, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and others to pass a package with a price tag that she helped shrink to an estimated $1.75 trillion from Democrats’ original $3.5 trillion.
“I’m looking forward to getting this done,” Sinema said. “I continue to work in good faith with President Biden and his team, as well as Sen. Schumer and all of my Democratic colleagues in both the House and Senate to find a package that we can all agree on and get this done.”
She's already running as an independent. Why wouldn't she kill the BBB plan and make it official?