Sinema Trolls Democrats in Speech on McConnell's Home Turf




  • In Politics
  • 2022-09-26 17:18:44Z
  • By The Daily Beast
Photo by Bonnie Cash-Pool/Getty Images
Photo by Bonnie Cash-Pool/Getty Images  

When it was announced that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) would be giving a speech in Kentucky at an institution created by Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, the move seemed perfectly calibrated to troll her fellow Democrats.

By the time the Arizona senator stepped off the stage at the McConnell Center on Monday-and thanked an applauding audience that included McConnell himself-she could safely say: mission accomplished.

In her remarks, Sinema doubled down on the most high-profile areas where she has broken with fellow Democrats, defended her style of bipartisan dealmaking, attacked what she framed as partisanship and extremism in both parties, and warmly described her personal relationship with her host that day-the man who has been her party's most hated enemy for decades.

Will Kyrsten Sinema's 'Self-Destructive' Moves Take Her Down?

It was precisely the kind of stuff that has made Sinema persona non grata among Democrats from Arizona to Washington as she emerged as a decisive roadblock to much of the party's agenda under President Joe Biden and majorities in the House and Senate.

Indeed, during her speech, Sinema's many critics lit into her on social media-including Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), the Phoenix progressive who is openly considering a primary challenge to her in 2024.

But in her speech, Sinema cast that backlash as proof of the righteousness of her approach to politics. "If you don't fit in today's Washington, trust me, they want to kick you out," Sinema said. "But I've never really wanted to fit in, in Washington or anywhere else."

The tone for the spectacle was set by McConnell, who introduced Sinema. The longtime GOP leader, not especially known for his warmth or loquaciousness in public, was effusive about the Arizona Democrat, calling her "the most effective first-term senator I've seen in my time in the Senate."

McConnell went on to praise Sinema as a "genuine moderate and dealmaker" in a Democratic Party that he said has "too few of them" and all but credited her for saving the Senate because she opposed the Democratic caucus' push to eliminate the chamber's 60-vote threshold for passing bills.

"As you can tell," McConnell said, "I have a very high opinion of the senator from Arizona."

At the beginning of her remarks, Sinema returned the favor. "Despite our apparent differences, Sen. McConnell and I have forged a friendship," she said, rooted in commonalities she listed like a "pragmatic approach to legislating" and "respect for the Senate."

McConnell, of course, is hardly known as a champion of bipartisan compromise and comity. One of the most hard-edged partisan warriors of the modern era, the GOP leader is blamed by Democrats for inventing the ruthless political warfare Sinema decried in her speech.

Manchin and Sinema Already Doom Any New Abortion Law

Much of Sinema's remarks were devoted to extolling the virtues of two major bipartisan bills she was closely involved in shaping this year: the $1 trillion infrastructure law and the gun safety compromise.

Criticizing the "all or nothing purity tests" that she argued define contemporary politics, Sinema focused on the group of senators who shaped the infrastructure bill. "The 10 of us shut out noise from the extremes, refused to demonize each other," she said, "and focused on identifying creative solutions and commonsense compromise."

While Democrats prize those achievements, to many, the opposition of Sinema-and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)-to changing the filibuster remains one of the sorest spots of an otherwise productive session in Congress. The Arizona senator also left her mark on the sweeping climate change, tax, and health care legislation Democrats passed in August along partisan lines, and her resistance to tax reforms-frequently along the preferred lines of deep-pocketed finance interests-still rankles many.

On Monday, Sinema unsurprisingly reiterated her opposition to eliminating the 60-vote rule, and went further. She expressed a belief-which she previously did in 2019-that the Senate should restore the 60-vote threshold to everything, judicial nominations and administration appointments included.

The senator acknowledged that such a move would make filling key posts more difficult but would help ensure more nominees are broadly supported by both parties. The irony of Sinema defending this idea at a center named for McConnell was lost on few Democrats. As Minority Leader in the Obama era, McConnell blocked so many of Obama's judicial nominees that the Majority Leader at the time, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), was prompted to make the controversial move of ending the filibuster for judicial nominees.

Sinema Refused to Mask Up for Biden Meeting, Says New Book

To underscore her broader point on the filibuster, Sinema noted that control of Congress switches "every couple of years" and "it's likely to change again in just a few weeks"-a rare explicit acknowledgement by a Democrat that the party may lose either the House, Senate or both. This remark set off Gallego, who tweeted that Sinema "would actually prefer the Dems lose control of the Senate and House."

Notably, Sinema expressed no preference either way as to who might control Congress next year. "I'll work with Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Republicans, Democrats," Sinema said. "Anyone who's willing to roll up their sleeves."

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Senate MAGA mutineers work on new ways to punish Mitch McConnell
Senate MAGA mutineers work on new ways to punish Mitch McConnell

MAGA lawmakers like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz who blame Mitch McConnell for the Senate GOP's midterms flop aim to gum up the legislative works more often.

Family of deceased Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick snubs GOP leaders
Family of deceased Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick snubs GOP leaders

The family of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died hours after defending the Capitol on Jan. 6, refused to shake hands with the two top...

Biden went to Arizona and skipped visiting the border. But in DC, a bipartisan immigration bill is brewing
Biden went to Arizona and skipped visiting the border. But in DC, a bipartisan immigration bill is brewing

President Joe Biden has repeatedly called on Congress to pass immigration reform. This might be his last chance to do so before the next Congress.

Mitch McConnell Imperils Marijuana Banking Reform
Mitch McConnell Imperils Marijuana Banking Reform

The Republican leader said congressional Democrats should not include a bipartisan measure related to cannabis in a defense spending bill.

Trump
Trump's Constitution remarks put McConnell, GOP on defense

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell delivered another rebuke of former President Donald Trump on Tuesday, saying that anyone who thinks the Constitution...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Politics