Sinema slams delay of infrastructure vote: ‘Inexcusable’
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) on Saturday slammed the decision to delay a vote this week on the bipartisan infrastructure deal that she helped negotiate, calling it “inexcusable.”
Good-faith negotiations, the Arizona centrist argued, “require trust.”
“Over the course of this year, Democratic leaders have made conflicting promises that could not all be kept — and have, at times, pretended that differences of opinion within our party did not exist, even when those disagreements were repeatedly made clear directly and publicly,” Sinema said in a statement.
“Canceling the infrastructure vote further erodes that trust. More importantly, it betrays the trust the American people have placed in their elected leaders and denies our country crucial investments to expand economic opportunities,” Sinema continued.
In August, the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed through the Senate in a 69-30 vote. The bill sought to provide funding for “traditional” infrastructure such as repairing bridges and roads. The bill was negotiated by President Biden as well as Senate moderates from both sides of the aisle.
The bipartisan bill was slated for a vote in the lower chamber this week. However, those chances were foiled when progressives signaled that they would tank the bill if a larger reconciliation bill with Democratic priorities was not passed.
The vote, which was first anticipated to come up Monday, over time got dragged out until Friday, when Biden broke the news to moderate Democrats on Capitol Hill that a vote would not occur during a 40-minute session with his caucus behind closed doors.
Following the meeting, Biden was adamant that both bills would get passed, but said that there was no rush to pass his economic agenda.
“It doesn’t matter when. It doesn’t matter whether it’s six minutes, six days or six weeks. We’re gonna get it done,” he said.
The announcement from the president signaled efforts by Democratic leadership to walk a fine line between the centrist and progressive flanks of the party and try to marry their interests on the bills.
“Arizonans, and all everyday Americans, expect their lawmakers to consider legislation on the merits — rather than obstruct new jobs and critical infrastructure investments for no substantive reason. What Americans have seen instead is an ineffective stunt to gain leverage over a separate proposal,” Sinema added in her biting statement.
“My vote belongs to Arizona, and I do not trade my vote for political favors — I vote based only on what is best for my state and the country. I have never, and would never, agree to any bargain that would hold one piece of legislation hostage to another,” she continued.
The delay has also drawn the ire of several other Democrats — Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) — who criticized the move on Friday not to bring the bipartisan infrastructure legislation for a vote.
“Along with a group of members, I’ve been working around-the-clock to pass the bipartisan bill, legislation we held craft back in April with my senate colleagues,” Gottheimer said in a statement. “But a small far-left faction of the House of Representatives undermined that agreement and blocked a critical vote on the president’s historic bipartisan infrastructure bill.”
In a “Dear Colleague” letter to House members on Saturday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) defended the decision to delay a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, saying that “more time was needed to reach our goal of passing both bills, which we will.”
She also signaled that the bipartisan bill would need to be passed before Oct. 31, though the move will likely further upset Democrats, which will further set back a vote on the infrastructure legislation.