Speed Reads

minimum wage

Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema compared to Marie Antoinette for voting against minimum wage hike

Eight Democratic senators voted against Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) effort to get a minimum wage hike included in the COVID-19 relief bill, but one senator in particular seems to be taking the most heat for it.

Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voted against an amendment to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over five years, which Sanders introduced after the Senate Parliamentarian ruled the increase couldn't be included under budget reconciliation. She and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) were two moderate Democrats who were expected to oppose the move, since Sinema has said she thinks the issue of a minimum wage hike should be debated separately.

Though Sinema's vote wasn't a surprise, critics were still baffled. The Arizona senator, after all, had been pushing for a higher minimum wage for years, calling it a "no-brainer" back in 2014. As The New Republic notes, citing her election win margins, the proposal to raise the wage "is almost definitely more popular than the senator herself in her home state of Arizona ... Hundreds of thousands more Arizonans voted to raise the minimum wage than to make Kyrsten Sinema a senator." Over on Twitter, "Marie Antoinette" began trending after reporters noted she had brought a "large chocolate cake" into the Senate to share with staffers. An opinion column in the Arizona Republic raged, "Sinema apparently just wants the little people to eat cake."

Democratic Sens. Jon Tester (Mt.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Angus King (I-Maine), Chris Coons (Del.) and Tom Carper (Del.) also all voted against the amendment, but none faced the same level of public ire. One possible explanation? The Washington Post's Greg Sargent points out Sinema has the largest number of constituents affected by the failed wage hike. Summer Meza