As Budget Bill Hangs in Limbo, Kyrsten Sinema Heads to Europe

Ms. Sinema is one of the most closely watched Senate Democrats in the country as one of two centrists, along with Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who have objected to the price of Mr. Biden’s budget package, which could spend as much as $3.5 trillion over a decade remaking social and climate policy in the nation.

With the Senate tied 50-50, Democrats need unanimity to pass any package, which has greatly empowered both Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema as the party’s vocal holdouts. Vice President Kamala Harris would serve as the tiebreaking vote.

Ms. Sinema has pushed for the House to adopt a separate, bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill while the larger budget package is being negotiated. She called the delay in voting on the infrastructure package “inexcusable” and “deeply disappointing” in early October.

When the Senate is out of session, senators are free to fund-raise, return to their home states for events, remain in Washington working on legislation or travel abroad, both for official government business and for vacations.

Ms. Sinema’s fund-raising while in the midst of budget negotiations has already drawn scrutiny. In late September, a group of five business lobbying groups, many of which oppose the budget bill, held a fund-raiser for her in Washington, D.C. Sponsors of that event included the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and the grocers’ political action committee, as well as lobbyists for roofers and electrical contractors.

Days later, Ms. Sinema traveled to Arizona where she had a “retreat” for her political action committee at a high-end resort and spa in Phoenix. When she left Washington, the reason that her spokesman provided was a medical appointment for a foot injury. That injury prevented her from running the Boston Marathon, though she still attended. Some climate activists showed up and waved a banner that urged her to “Be brave — fight for us.”

Progressive activists have expressed growing frustration with Ms. Sinema in recent weeks, with some trying to recruit a primary challenger when she is next up for re-election, in 2024.

Ms. Sinema entered July with $3.5 million in her re-election account.


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