Arizona Sen. Kysten Sinema perplexed Democratic colleagues once again Friday – this time by skipping town to see a foot doctor with plans to attend a big dollar fundraiser amid tense budget talks in Washington.
Sinema, a key centrist holdout on the $3.5 trillion reconciliation deal that is being trimmed, left DC for a medical appointment at the tail end of a week where she went to the White House four times.
Her office said she remained in touch with the White House even while tending to her hurt foot.
‘Senator Sinema is in Phoenix where she has a medical appointment today, and where she continues remote negotiations with the White House,’ her office said in a statement.
‘Last night, Kyrsten and our team offered the White House continued discussions and negotiations for this morning. We’re awaiting word from the White House for their availability,’ the statement added.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., leaves a private meeting with Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., White House domestic policy adviser Susan Rice, Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese, and other White House officials on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. She flew home to Phoenix, where she had a medical appointment Friday, her office said. The NY Times reported she was to attend a high-dollar fundraiser retreat Saturday
The Senate was not in session Friday, and most of the action was in the House, where President Joe Biden met with lawmakers for less than an hour Friday afternoon in an effort to resolve intra-party disputes on an infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package.
Buy-in from both chambers is needed, amid a progressive revolt led by lawmakers who refuse to back the bipartisan infrastructure deal until they get assurances or a Senate vote on the larger package – which Sinema has yet to get behind.
Amid the turmoil, the New York Times reported that Sinema had a big dollar ‘retreat’ for her PAC on Saturday, to be held at a high-end resort and spa.
The story broke just as Biden was preparing to with House members to urge unity and compromise on a smaller reconciliation deal.
Earlier this week, the paper reported she attended a ‘Sinema for Arizona’ event in DC with lobbyists and supporters paying up to $5,100 to support her.
Sinema was out of town on a day President Biden [here with Speaker Nancy Pelosi] came to the Capitol to try to forge consensus on the budget
Sinema broke her foot in June while running the Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon in Washington state. She is an avid athlete and runner, competing in marathons and ironman triathlons. In the weeks after she was spotted in the Capitol hobbling on crutches and wearing a boot.
Lawmakers who get health coverage for their Senate offices can choose from medical plans that have in-network doctors in Washington, D.C.
The Senate is not expected to vote again until Monday, but Sinema fled town as Democrats were unable to come to to a deal on Biden’s $3.5 trillion social agenda package, which includes paid family leave, universal prekindergarten, free tuition at community college, Medicare expansion and strong measures to combat climate change.
Sinema, along with moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, is one of the hold ups. She wants a lower figure than the $3.5 trillion topline number. Sinema was seen leaving the Capitol late Thursday night after being holed up in talks all day.
Pocan, a Wisconsin member of the substantial House progressive faction, tore into Sinema as the Arizona Democrat once again held a key role in Capitol negotiations, after shuttling repeatedly to the White House this week.
Sinema, a runner, broke her foot in June
Some progressives are boiling over at the first-term senator, even as the cut more slack to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who has put a number on what he is willing to support in a major reconciliation bill, and called for rolling back some of the Trump tax cuts.
The frustration even as Democrats appear to have made at least some progress in narrowing differences and moving toward agreement on an overall price tag for the president’s $3.5 trillion reconciliation plan being renegotiated.
‘I think those negotiations have started now, so… this has probably helped some things move loose,’ Pocan told Forbes, in reference to Manchin’s printed proposal, which emerged Thursday.
Then he dug into Sinema, who got four White House meetings over two days.
‘Half of Manchinema has now shown us something. Waiting for the other half to show us something other than a designer purse,’ he quipped.
His comment came after fellow progressive Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) ripped Sinema this week.
‘The president has already won me over. I’m on his side, as by the way is 99 per cent of the Democratic party,’ the lawmaker fumed on CNN. ‘We’re willing to negotiate,’ he said. ‘Literally one senator – one Senator, Kyrsten Sinema – is holding up the will of the entire Democratic Party,’ he said.
‘Half of Manchinema has now shown us something. Waiting for the other half to show us something other than a designer purse,’ said Pocan, in reference to Sens. Manchin and Sinema
Progressive lawmakers have been boiling over at Sinema for failing to state precise objections to the reconciliation bill or a top number she can live with. ‘Claims that the Senator has not detailed her views to President Biden and Senator Schumer are false,’ she finally responded Thursday
Democratic Senator from West Virginia Joe Manchin tells reporters that his spending limit for the Democrat’s budget reconciliation package is 1.5 trillion US dollars outside the US Capitol Washington, DC, USA, 30 September 2021
Fellow Democrats are frustrated with Manchin’s demands, but at least give him credit for listing them
Said Khanna: ‘The President keeps begging her: tell us what you want. Put a proposal forward,’ Khsanna said. He noted that progressive lawmakers had come down from an earlier push for $6 trillion in the ‘human infrastructure’ bill.
‘How do you compromise … when Sinema is not saying anything?’ he asked. ‘This is not progressives versus moderates. This is the entire Democratic Party and Joe Biden versus Kyrsten Sinema,’ he added. ‘I have no idea what she wants. I don’t htink her colleagues know what she wants. I don’t think the president knows what she wants. We don’t know what she wants. it’s really odd.
Sinema defended herself against the criticism in a statement tweeted out by her office Thurdsay.
‘Senator Sinema said publicly more than two months ago, before Senate passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, that she would not support a bill costing $3.5 trillion,’ her office said. ‘In August, she shared detailed concerns and priorities, including dollar figures, directly with Senate Majority Leader [Chuck] Schumer and the White House. Claims that the Senator has not detailed her views to President Biden and Senator Schumer are false.’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday praised Manchin, even as the White House and fellow Democrats struggled to win him over. She called him a ‘great member of the Senate.’
‘We’re friends. Italian-Americans. Catholic,’ she said.
Sinema, who is the first openly bisexual women to serve in the Senate, is known in the Capitol corridors for wearing bright outfits and sometimes donning colorful wigs. But she is not known to regularly sport high-end fashion brands
Pocan, whose district includes Madison, is openly gay.
DailyMail.com has reached out to Sinema for comment.