Biden: ‘Not appropriate’ for protesters to follow Sinema into bathroom
President Biden on Monday said he did not agree with activists who followed Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) into a bathroom over the weekend to protest her position on a reconciliation bill containing Democratic priorities.
“I don’t think they’re appropriate tactics, but it happens to everybody. The only people it doesn’t happen to are people who have Secret Service standing around them. So it’s part of the process,” Biden said, responding to a question from Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy.
Sinema traveled over the weekend to Arizona for a medical appointment and a reported fundraiser. The senator said protesters followed her into a bathroom at Arizona State University, where she is a lecturer, videotaped students without their permission and recorded her and her students in a campus bathroom.
“Yesterday’s behavior was not legitimate protest,” Sinema said in a statement. “It is unacceptable for activist organizations to instruct their members to jeopardize themselves by engaging in unlawful activities such as gaining entry to closed university buildings, disrupting learning environments, and filming students in a restroom.”
“It is the duty of elected leaders to avoid fostering an environment in which honestly-held policy disagreements serve as the basis for vitriol — raising the temperature in political rhetoric and creating a permission structure for unacceptable behavior,” she added.
A video of the incident showed an activist standing outside of the bathroom stall that Sinema was in while the other stood at the entrance of the bathroom filming the encounter.
Sinema, along with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), has opposed the initial $3.5 trillion price tag proposed for Democrats reconciliation bill. Manchin has said he is not comfortable with a figure larger than $1.5 trillion, while Sinema has avoided outlining her own specific views in public, frustrating some Democrats and triggering talk of a potential primary challenge when Sinema is up for reelection in 2024.
Biden said Monday he is still working on getting Manchin and Sinema on board with his economic agenda.
“This is a process,” he said, pointing to Democrats’ narrow margins in the House and Senate. “We’ll get it done.”