A Democratic senator is being slammed by her own party for the way in which she ‘flippantly’ voted against a minimum wage increase pushed by Senator Bernie Sanders on Friday.
Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, 44, sided with Republicans and seven other senators as she voted down an amendment to President Joe Biden‘s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that would increase the minimum wage to $15.
Yet it was the way in which Sinema cast her vote that has caused a social media storm and led to her being compared to late Arizona senator John McCain.
Sinema, who entered the Senate in January 2019 after serving in the U.S. House and Arizona state Legislature, was shown standing on the House floor, flashing a thumbs down and curtsying as her name was called to cast her vote.
It was similar to the memorable moment when McCain signaled a thumbs down when he failed to side with other Republicans to overturn the Affordable Care Act in 2017.
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Senator Kyrsten Sinema was shown standing on the House floor, flashing a thumbs down as her name was called to cast her vote against the $15/hour minimum wage amendment
It was the way in which Sinema cast her vote that has caused a social media storm and led to her being compared to late Arizona senator John McCain (as pictured above)
Sinema’s vote was compared on social media to the memorable moment when late Arizona Senator John McCain signaled a thumbs down when he failed to side with other Republicans to overturn the Affordable Care Act in 2017 (as pictured above)
Sinema, a moderate who frequently votes against more liberal Democrat policies, has previously voiced support for increasing the minimum wage in 2006 and 2016.
She claimed in her vote Friday that she did not believe that the hike should be included as an amendment in the COVID-19 relief bill but debated by itself.
‘Senators in both parties have shown support for raising the federal minimum wage and the Senate should hold an open debate and amendment process on raising the minimum wage, separate from the COVID-focused reconciliation bill,’ she wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema (pictured) was among seven Democrats and one Independent to vote against the $15 per hour minimum wage amendment on Friday
‘I will keep working with colleagues in both parties to ensure Americans can access good-paying jobs, quality education, and skills training to build more economically secure lives for themselves and their families.’
Hand signals have been more commonly used for votes in Congress in the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sinema’s Arizona colleague, Senator Mark Kelly, also flashed a thumbs up earlier today when he cast his vote.
Yet Sinema’s actions quickly went viral as other Democrats turned on her for voting against the amendment.
‘It’s not just that Krysten Sinema voted against giving Americans a fair working wage, it’s the way she did it!’ wrote filmmaker Morgan Freeman.
‘Did Sinema really have vote against a $15 minimum wage for 24 million people like this?’ asked Sawyer Hackett, Senior Advisor and Communications for Julian Castro.
Others called out how she had been trying to talk to Mitch McConnell just moments before.
Social media users hit Sinema with criticism for the way in which she cast her vote
Others called out how she had been trying to talk to Mitch McConnell just moments before
Some social media users hit out about the bag Sinema was carrying at the time
‘Maybe even more offensive than @kyrstensinema ‘s enthusiastic *thumbs down* to raising wages for workers was how she buddies up to Mitch McConnell right before she does it and makes sure he sees her,’ wrote The Tennessee Holler.
And more called out the senator for the handbag she was holding as she cast the vote.
‘I’m humbled to announce in a parody of white feminism Krysten Sinema [sic] voted against a $15 living wage while carrying a giant Lululemon bag,’ wrote writer Bess Kalb.
‘I wish I could tell you it isn’t true, but the bag is evidently called the ‘Happy Hatha Hour’ bag, and its manufacturer’s intent was for the wearer to take it from yoga to cocktails. Goodnight and good luck.’
Sinema hit back at the criticism, however, with her spokesperson claiming it was sexist to comment on the ‘body language’ or ‘physical demeanor’ of the senator as she cast her vote.
‘Commentary about a female senator’s body language, clothing, or physical demeanor does not belong in a serious media outlet,’ Hannah Hurley, a spokesperson for Sinema, told HuffPost.
Sentor Sinema went viral after the video of her vote on Friday afternoon was shared
Sinema then walked straight out of the chamber after making the signal
Senator Sinema claimed that she supports minimum wage but not as part of the relief bill
McCain’s 2017 ‘thumbs down’ vote to repeal Obamacare had also caused outrage as Republicans saw it as a deliberate rebuke of Trump.
Sinema, unlike McCain, has often sided across party lines with Republicans on overturning the signature Obama legislation.
According to Brookings Institute, more than 800,000 Arizona residents would be affected by the minimum wage increase.
Sinema one of seven Democrats and one left-leaning independent who opposed the amendment, which failed on a 58-42 count.
The amendment had been pushed by Senator Bernie Sanders.
It was a long shot bid by Sanders to get the wage hike into the legislation after the Senate parliamentarian ruled it could not be included.
‘This legislation is the most consequential and significant legislation for working families that Congress has debated for many, many decades,’ Sanders said on the Senate floor Friday.
In pushing the amendment, Sanders forced his fellow Democrats to take a stand on the issue, which has divided the moderate and progressive wings of the party.
Sen. Bernie Sanders’ attempt to add a $15/hour minimum wage to the COVID relief bill failed
Even if all Democrats supported Sanders, his move to include it would have failed given the Republican opposition to it.
The White House made clear Friday it that President Joe Biden supports Sanders’ drive to raise the wage.
Press secretary Jen Psaki said to be clear the administration is ‘not engaged in conversations or negotiations about lowering the threshold for the minimum wage, just to be crystal clear on that.’
Some Republican senators are pushing a bill to have an $11 per hour minimum wage.
Late on Friday moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin struck a deal with Senate leaders over emergency jobless benefits, breaking a nine-hour logjam that had stalled the party’s showpiece $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.
The Senate vote-a-rama had become vote-a-drama earlier on Friday when Democrats put voting on hold as they worked to persuade Manchin to join them on unemployment benefits.
The West Virginia lawmaker announced the compromise Friday night, which seemed to clear the way for the Senate to begin a climactic, marathon series of votes on a pile of amendments that are likely to go overnight.
The compromise would provide $300 weekly, with the final check paid on Sept. 6, and includes the tax break on benefits.
Eventually, with Manchin’s support, the bill is expected to lead to approval of the sweeping legislation.