Sinema says she opposes $3.5T price tag for spending bill

Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaDemocrats reject hardball tactics against Senate parliamentarian  The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration This week: Democrats face mounting headaches MORE (D-Ariz.) said Wednesday that she does not support the $3.5 trillion price tag for a sweeping spending package at the center of President BidenJoe BidenUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks GOP Rep. Cawthorn likens vaccine mandates to 'modern-day segregation' MORE’s legislative agenda.

Sinema, in a statement first reported by the Arizona Republic, said she would vote to start debate on the budget resolution, which lays the groundwork for the Democrat-only spending package but wants changes, including to the cost of the legislation. 

“I have ... made clear that while I will support beginning this process, I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion — and in the coming months, I will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration to strengthen Arizona’s economy and help Arizona’s everyday families get ahead,” Sinema said in a statement.

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To pass the budget resolution and the subsequent $3.5 trillion bill, all 50 Senate Democrats will need to support the measures.

Senate Democrats are expected to vote on the budget resolution, which will set the price tag and include instructions for writing the spending package, before they leave for a weeks-long summer break. They will then return in September and pass the massive spending package itself some time this fall. 

Sinema’s statement is the latest sign of the headaches awaiting Democrats as they try to craft legislation packed with some of their biggest priorities.

Senate Democratic aides were quick to note that Sinema’s statement suggests she will vote to start debate on the budget resolution, in a win for Democrats on the first hurdle, and save her leverage to push for changes throughout the process.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — Biden, Xi talk climate at UN forum Election reform in the states is not all doom and gloom Manchin presses Interior nominee on leasing program review MORE (D-W.Va.) has described himself as open, but hasn't committed to a price tag or said how he will vote. Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrats say Biden must get more involved in budget fight Senate backers of new voting rights bill push for swift passage The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Polls open in California as Newsom fights for job MORE (D-Mont.) has also said he will vote to start debate on a budget resolution but hasn't said if he can support the end product.

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House progressives immediately criticized Sinema, a frequent target of liberal ire, arguing that she could undercut Biden’s package.

“Good luck tanking your own party’s investment on childcare, climate action, and infrastructure while presuming you’ll survive a 3 vote House margin - especially after choosing to exclude members of color from negotiations and calling that a ‘bipartisan accomplishment,’” tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezFeehery: The confidence game Democrats face full legislative plate and rising tensions McCarthy on Dems' spending bill: 'The amount of money we spent to win World War II' MORE (D-N.Y.).

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Democrats are pursuing infrastructure on two tracks. On one path is the party-line $3.5 trillion plan, which would include large swaths of Biden’s jobs and families plan along with other party priorities like immigration reform.  

They are also trying to pass a $1.2 trillion bipartisan plan. The bipartisan group of Senate negotiators, which Sinema is helping lead, announced Wednesday that they had a deal on the “major issues” of that package.

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats seek to cool simmering tensions Louisiana delegation split over debt hike bill with disaster aid House Democrats unveil legislation to curtail presidential power MORE (D-Calif.) has vowed that she will not take up the bipartisan bill until Senate Democrats have passed the second larger package, which they can do without GOP support under budget rules. 

Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) warned that if he believes the Democratic-only bill falls short he won't support the bipartisan bill in the House. 

“Without a reconciliation package that meets this moment, I’m a no on this bipartisan deal,” Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) added in a tweet reacting to Sinema’s statement.

 

Updated at 4:02 p.m.