Energy & Environment

Immigration activists follow Sinema into bathroom in Phoenix

Immigration activists followed Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) into a bathroom in Arizona on Sunday, demanding that she support the Democrats’ massive social spending bill.  

The interaction took place at Arizona State University in Phoenix, where Sinema is a lecturer. The activists followed the senator into the bathroom after she exited her classroom and urged her to get on board with the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, according to a video tweeted by the activist group, Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA). 

The video showed one activist standing outside of the bathroom stall that Sinema was in while another stood at the entrance of the bathroom filming the encounter.

“We knocked on doors for you,” the person filming the video said to Sinema. “Just like we got you elected, we can get you out of office if you don’t support what you promised us.”

It is illegal to photograph or videotape someone in a bathroom where that person “has a reasonable expectation of privacy,” according to Arizona law

“Yesterday’s behavior was not legitimate protest,” Sinema said in a statement on Monday. “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.”

The activists’ group, meanwhile, tweeted that it “wouldn’t have to resort to confronting” Sinema if she “took meetings with the communities that elected her.”

Sinema, however, said that she has met with the group “several times.”

“The activist group that engaged in yesterday’s behavior is one that both my team and I have met with several times since I was elected to the Senate, and I will continue engaging with Arizonans with diverse viewpoints to help inform my work for Arizona,” Sinema said in the statement.

In an email to The Hill, the activist group said on Monday that the senator “has ignored us and all the people who fought hardest to elect her for years.”

“No one wants to meet with their senator in the restroom,” LUCHA’s communications manager, César Fierros, said. “But it seems like there’s a price tag of several hundred thousand dollars to meet with her anywhere else.”

Sinema, along with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), has been been staunchly opposed to the $3.5 trillion price tag of the reconciliation bill, drawing the ire of progressives who say it is necessary to fund critical programs like climate initiatives, health care expansion and child tax credits.

Democrats are also seeking to include in the bill a path to citizenship for undocumented people, but so far the Senate parliamentarian has deemed two proposed measures “not appropriate” for the budget reconciliation process.

As some Democrats grow increasingly frustrated with Sinema, there has been speculation that she could face a primary challenge from the left. Meanwhile, the Arizona Democratic Party has threatened a no-confidence vote unless Sinema gets on board with her party’s proposed spending plans.

–Updated at 12:16 p.m.

Tags Arizona Arizona Democrats Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema reconciliation package social spending plan

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