A key Democrat said Wednesday she will not support a proposed $3.5 trillion spending plan that her party had hoped to ram through the Senate without support from Republicans.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) said in a statement, “I support many of the goals in this proposal to continue creating jobs, growing American competitiveness, and expanding economic opportunities for Arizonans … I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion.”
The announcement means Democrats will likely need to reduce the scope of the legislation to secure the support of Sinema and her fellow moderate, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). With the Senate split 50-50, Democrats cannot afford to have a single member of their conference defect if they want to pass a so-called “reconciliation” bill with just 51 votes.
The $3.5 trillion plan, backed by socialist Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would have called for a massive infusion of cash for education initiatives like universal pre-kindergarten, Medicare expansion, efforts to counter the effects of climate change, and more.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) lashed out at Sinema over her announcement Wednesday, tweeting: “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.’”
Sinema is one of the key negotiators on a bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which cleared an initial Senate test vote Wednesday evening. Seventeen Republicans joined all 50 Democrats — including Sinema — in voting to begin debate on the measure.
“I think the strength of our vote tonight showed that we have support from both parties from folks who are fiscally responsible, fiscally conservative,” Sinema told reporters after the vote, adding that senators who voted to advance the agreement had sought to show “that bipartisan[ship] is alive and well and works in our country.”
Senate Democratic leadership had hoped to pass the $1.2 billion plan before turning their attention to the larger reconciliation measure.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said after the test vote that he still planned to shepherd both pieces of legislation through the chamber before the August recess, due to begin Aug. 9.
“It might take some long nights, it might eat into our weekends, but we are going to get the job done,” Schumer said after Wednesday’s vote. “And we are on track.”
On the House side, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has repeatedly said that she will not bring the bipartisan plan up for a vote until the Senate passes the larger reconciliation measure.