Senate

Sinema pushes back on criticism of her vote against $15 minimum wage

Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's (Ariz.) office is pushing back against criticism of her Friday vote to reject a $15 minimum wage bill, with a spokeswoman for the senator calling commentary on the way in which she cast her vote sexist.

Sinema was among eight Democrats who voted against the legislation, which was sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in an effort to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. 

The Senate voted 58 to 42 against an attempt to waive a procedural objection against adding the wage provision to the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, which the Senate narrowly passed along party lines Saturday. 

Fellow Democratic lawmakers and others took to Twitter to condemn Sinema's vote, with Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.) retweeting a 2014 tweet from Sinema in which she wrote, "A full-time minimum-wage earner makes less than $16k a year. This one's a no-brainer. Tell Congress to #RaiseTheWage!"

"To be clear, her state, Arizona overwhelmingly wants &15/hr," Newman tweeted Friday evening. 

However, others commented on the way in which Sinema cast her vote.

The Arizona senator walked up to the floor of the Senate and gave a thumbs-down, the common signal used by lawmakers to vote in opposition to a bill, while a thumbs-up indicates support. 

Some Twitter users focused specifically on Sinema's mannerisms, including how she nodded her head down, dipped her shoulders and bent her knee before standing up and walking away. 

Others focused on her clothes and handbag, claiming it indicated that the moderate Democrat was out of touch with Americans who support an increased wage. 

Hannah Hurley, a spokesperson for Sinema, pushed back against this commentary, however, saying in a statement to HuffPost on Friday evening, "Commentary about a female senator's body language, clothing, or physical demeanor does not belong in a serious media outlet." 

Hurley doubled down on her claims of sexism in a tweet later Friday, repeating her statement to HuffPost and adding, "I stand by what I said." 

The Hill has reached out to Hurley for comment. 

In a statement defending her vote Friday, Sinema pointed out that she backed minimum wage increases in her state in 2006 and 2016 but added, "The Senate should hold an open debate and amendment process on raising the minimum wage, separate from the COVID-focused reconciliation bill." 

"I understand what it is like to face tough choices while working to meet your family's most basic needs. I also know the difference better wages can make," she added. "I will keep working with colleagues in both parties to ensure Americans can access good-paying jobs, quality education, and skills training to build more economically secure lives for themselves and their families."

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