Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D), the senior senator from Arizona, voted with her caucus to advance a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan that can pass with a party-line vote in the 50-50 Senate. But she won't support adding a federal minimum wage hike to the package, she tells Politico, effectively killing the push to include a $15 minimum wage in the legislation. That's one reason that Sinema, Politico said in its Friday profile, is "the most influential Democrat you never hear from."
"What's important is whether or not it's directly related to short-term COVID relief, and if it's not, then I am not going to support it in this legislation," Sinema told Politico this week. "The minimum wage provision is not appropriate for the reconciliation process. It is not a budget item. And it shouldn't be in there." That goes for other Democratic wish-list items ruled out of bounds for budget reconciliation by the Senate parliamentarian. "There is no instance in which I would overrule a parliamentarian's decision," she said.
Like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), who you do hear from, Sinema won't vote to eliminate the filibuster. In fact, she told Politico, "I want to restore the 60-vote threshold for all elements of the Senate's work." Sinema's frequent "breaks with her liberal colleagues are both a reflection of her state, which she won by a narrow margin in 2018, and her temperament," plus the fact that after years in Arizona's state legislature and U.S. Senate, she "has literally never served in the majority before — so she feels the minority's pain," Politico reports.
Her Democratic colleagues "sense that Sinema is a team player regardless of her unique views," but "she still keeps Republicans at least as close as members of her own party," and she listens more than talks, Politico reports. You can read more about "one of the most quirky and interesting members of the stodgy Senate" — including her colorful wigs, deep purple and leopard print office decor, and friendship with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) — at Politico.