Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema threatened to oppose President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending bill unless the House approves the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure plan by the end of the month, Politico reports.
Sinema, who had already balked at the size of the bill, told Biden at a private meeting on Wednesday that she won’t back the budget bill if the House delays its scheduled September 27 vote on the infrastructure bill or if the vote fails.
Progressives have threatened to oppose the infrastructure bill unless it is passed at the same time as the spending bill, which moderates are increasingly trying to undercut. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to hold a vote on the infrastructure bill to get moderate support to advance the budget plan but that date is increasingly in doubt.
Sinema and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin have pushed back against the Democratic plan in the Senate and about 10 House Democrats are also pushing to speed through the infrastructure bill.
“If they delay the vote — or it goes down — then I think you can kiss reconciliation goodbye,” Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader told Politico. “Reconciliation would be dead.”
Sinema opposes drug plan:
Sinema also opposes the current House and Senate plans to lower prescription drug costs and would not support an alternative pitched by moderates to limit the drugs that would be subject to Medicare negotiation under the plan.
Democrats hope that the plan would allow them to raise about $700 billion over the next 10 years to pay for a big chunk of the spending proposal.
Sinema is one of the leading recipients of campaign donations from the pharmaceutical industry.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn told CNN on Sunday that it’s possible that the House will delay the September 27 vote because the reconciliation bill won’t be done by then.
But House moderates say that would be a deal-breaker.
“That’d be foolish on their part,” Schrader told Politico. “That would indicate they’re not playing fair in the sandbox. … It would be a travesty if they try to play games.”
Progressives believe that their refusal to back a clean vote on the infrastructure bill will pressure moderates into backing the spending bill but moderates privately say that “no infrastructure bill is better than one that’s paired with $3.5 trillion in spending.”