All Eyes on Sen. Sinema After Manchin-Schumer Deal

A deal between Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on a healthcare, tax, and climate proposal, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, has cast a new spotlight on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who is the only unclear Senate Democratic vote on the legislation.

MCCONNELL CAUGHT FLAT-FOOTED WITH SURPRISE SCHUMER-MANCHIN DEAL

The bill is a scaled-back alternative to Build Back Better, a sweeping social spending and green energy bill that Manchin killed last year when he objected to its price tag and raised concerns over inflation. Sinema also did not support the previous version of the bill.

The deal on a revamped measure was announced by Manchin just hours after the Senate passed the bipartisan CHIPS Act on Wednesday, aimed at helping the United States microprocessing industry compete against China. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had previously threatened to tank that measure if Democrats pursued a reconciliation bill, which requires a bare Senate majority for passage, rather than 60 votes. Senate and House Democrats expressed surprise and cautious optimism, while Republicans blasted the deal, which caught them flat-footed. The White House offered its support, while Biden lamented that the bill wasn’t everything he wanted.

But Sinema has not yet made her position on the bill clear, with her office telling reporters she was reviewing the text.

The deal does contain a measure closing the so-called carried interest tax loophole, which Sinema opposed during original negotiations.

In a press call with reporters via Zoom Thursday, Manchin said he had not spoken to Sinema about the deal. Sinema also did not attend a Thursday meeting among Senate Democrats on the bill.

No Republicans are expected to support the legislation, so Senate Democrats would need to secure the votes of all of their members to pass the bill through the evenly divided Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris likely breaking a tie.

The bill would be a huge and unexpected political win for Democrats, who have had few legislative victories as they seek to defend their congressional majorities amid sinking approval ratings for President Joe Biden and increasing voter concern over inflation.

Sinema has a reputation for being politically stubborn and sometimes unpredictable. She, like Manchin, has frustrated the left flank of her party with her continued support for the Senate filibuster despite activist outrage, including an incident in which she was followed into a bathroom.

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Sinema may be the most visible potential roadblock to the legislation, but there are other factors that could sink it as well: It is still under review by the Senate parliamentarian to determine whether it meets the criteria for a reconciliation bill that is not bound by the filibuster. COVID-19 also continues to affect the operations of the Senate, which does not have a proxy voting rule like the House. Manchin, for instance, announced the deal while he recovers from the virus in isolation.


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