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Progressives Blast Kyrsten Sinema: “No Goals for Arizonans, No Vision, No Commitments”

Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, and Raul Grijalva all criticized the Arizona senator's decision to switch parties.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Progressives made clear Friday they are not happy with Kyrsten Sinema and her decision to switch party affiliation.

Several of her colleagues issued scathing rebukes of the Arizona senator and her legislative history.

“With Senator Warnock’s re-election, Kyrsten Sinema’s ability to be the center of the political universe has ended within the Democratic Party,” said Representative Raul Grijalva, a fellow Arizonan and former head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, referring to Raphael Warnock’s victory in the Georgia runoff election.

“This is a predictable outcome for Senator Sinema as she has entirely separated herself from any semblance of representing hardworking and struggling Arizonans.”

Since coming to Capitol Hill, Sinema has undergone an ideological 180, seemingly jettisoning the progressive beliefs she previously espoused. This was one of progressives’ top critiques of her Friday.

She is also deeply unpopular across the board, but particularly among Democratic and independent voters.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, never one to hold back, also laid into Sinema, taking to Twitter to critique the senator’s video message announcing she was registering as an independent.

Not once in this long soliloquy does Sinema offer a single concrete value or policy she believes in. She lays out no goals for Arizonans, no vision, no commitments,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “People deserve more.”

Representative Jamaal Bowman, another New York progressive, took a slightly different approach.

He posted a video of Sinema’s notorious flippant thumbs-down vote against raising the minimum wage, with a clip of himself giving a thumbs down superimposed on top.

“Bye Felicia!” he captioned the video.

Ruben Gallego Hints Senate Run Against Kyrsten Sinema

The Democratic representative from Arizona sent a fundraising text message to supporters the same day that Sinema switched parties.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

After Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema announced her departure from the Democratic Party to become an independent, Arizona Representative Ruben Gallego pounced to criticize her.

“Last month, the voters of Arizona made their voices heard loud and clear — they want leaders who put the people of Arizona first. We need Senators who will put Arizonans ahead of big drug companies and Wall Street bankers,” Gallego said in a statement Friday. “Unfortunately, Senator Sinema is once again putting her own interests ahead of getting things done for Arizonans.”

Shortly after, the Gallego campaign team sent out a fundraising text message. “What if you knew that Ruben was strongly considering running for Senate but needed to know he’d have the grassroots support to run?” the text read.

This comes after Gallego blasted Sinema last month for being “nowhere to be found” leading up to the midterm elections.

“You did not see [Sinema] at one public event for anybody,” Gallego said on MSNBC. “And when we have these races that are really in the mix right now, she could have been a very good surrogate to help out a lot of our candidates. And she did nothing, because she only cares about herself.”

The Arizona representative’s targeting of Sinema—and hinting at running for her seat—is nothing new. Last July, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Gallego tweeted at Sinema, asking her to have a town hall and explain her opposition to forgoing the filibuster in order to codify the right to abortion. Later that month, Gallego’s campaign fundraised on Facebook, teasing a potential challenge against Sinema using similar language to Friday’s messaging.

At this point, it seems not a matter of if, but when Gallego announces his run for Sinema’s seat. Though Sinema is massively unpopular amongst pretty much all Arizonans, the growing enthusiasm for Gallego’s run will have to confront the very real possibility Sinema chooses to run as an independent.

More on Arizona

No, Progressives Didn’t “Make” Sinema Leave the Party

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema alienated her own voters. Let's not pretend otherwise.

A grimacing Kyrsten Sinema is confronted by reporters.
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

On Friday morning, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema bravely announced she is now a registered independent, rejecting the “partisan process” in favor of “solving problems and getting things done.”

Already, pundits are arguing that this is a situation where “progressives chase a moderate out of the party.” In the coming days, there will be even more arguments about how the Democratic Party is so radical it pushed out a key senator.

But this notion infantilizes one of the most powerful people in America and downplays Sinema’s own track record.

In reality, Sinema has a long history of obstructing the Democratic agenda. And whenever Sinema has blocked legislation, she has typically served the interests of the few.

Yes, there’s her stubborn support for the filibuster in lieu of pushing forward democratic reform. But there’s also the time Sinema stopped Congress from eliminating a tax loophole that served rich financiers. Or her opposition to raising taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations, reining in drug prescription prices, and spending even a fraction of what’s necessary to support the climate—ultimately sinking the Build Back Better agenda. And lest we forget Sinema’s infamous let-them-eat-cake thumbs down to giving working people a $15 minimum wage.

All this while Sinema has enjoyed massive hauls of cash from the pharma industry, payday lenders, and the financial sector. Doesn’t sound so “independent,” does it?

Progressive did not direct any “ire” at Sinema for no reason. Her own actions prompted it. When “solving problems” and “getting things done” is just in favor of the few, it’s only natural that she’ll alienate voters from her own party.

Let’s not conflate “free thinking” with an unaccountable one.

Arizona Voters Hate Kyrsten Sinema Across Party Lines

Kyrsten Sinema left the Democratic Party and registered as independent. But polls show the majority of Arizona voters, regardless of party, hold her in low regard.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senator Kyrsten Sinema may have thought that switching political affiliation Friday would help her get reelected, but in fact, she is deeply unpopular in Arizona across party lines—which is unlikely to change anytime soon.

FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver tweeted a graphic from an AARP poll conducted in September showing low support for Sinema among Arizona voters.

Only 37 percent of all likely voters viewed her favorably. Among Democrats, 57 percent viewed her unfavorably. Even among independents, her new team, 51 percent said they viewed her unfavorably.

In a reply to someone else’s comment, Silver estimated that Sinema would have had a 40 percent chance of winning her primary as a Democrat, and then about a 60 percent chance of winning the general election.

But now that she’s an independent, he put her chances of winning at only 25 percent.

Another poll, conducted in July by Data for Progress and the local Arizona news outlet The Copper Courier, found that Sinema had only a 42 percent approval rating among state residents. Only 34 percent of Arizona Democrats viewed her favorably.

Sinema’s abysmal approval levels should come as no surprise. Since being elected to Congress, she seems to have undergone a massive ideological transformation.

A former Green Party activist, Sinema had protested the Iraq War with the left-wing social justice group Code Pink and warned against the dangers of capitalism. But once she reached Capitol Hill, she swung much more moderate.

Most notably, she voted with a flippant thumbs-down against increasing the minimum wage—despite previously being vocal in support of raising it.

The Arizona state Democratic Party had censured Sinema in January for opposing the removal of the filibuster. The group similarly did not hold back in response to Sinema’s party change, charging that she had failed to stand up for her constituents in key areas such as voting rights and holding major corporations accountable.

“Senator Sinema may now be registered as an Independent, but she has shown she answers to corporations and billionaires, not Arizonans,” the party said in a statement. “Senator Sinema’s party registration means nothing if she continues to not listen to her constituents.”

Kyrsten Sinema Says 51 Senate Seats Is a “D.C. Thing to Worry About”

After switching from Democrat to independent, the Arizona senator refuses to say how she'll vote in the Senate.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Kyrsten Sinema seems unaware of or unwilling to acknowledge the potential consequences of changing parties just days after the Democrats secured a 51-49 majority in the Senate.

The Arizona senator announced Friday that she was changing her political affiliation from Democratic to independent, a major blow to her now former party. But when she was asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper about how her move will affect Democrats’ power in the Senate, she dodged.

Sinema insisted that concerns about 51 versus 50 seats was “kind of a D.C. thing to worry about” and said she was more focused on sticking to her values and those of her voters.

Except, the difference between 51 and 50 set votes for the Democratic Party is not a “D.C. thing.” It has massive implications for national legislation and the future of the country.

There’s a reason that Senator Raphael Warnock campaigned so hard during the Georgia runoff. Even though Democrats already had 50 seats in the Senate, his victory would have given them far more influence in the chamber.

Fifty-one seats meant that Democrats would control committees and could more easily approve judicial appointments. They could block dangerous legislation or investigations from the Republican-controlled House.

And crucially, 51 seats meant that if a Democratic senator stonewalled—usually Sinema herself or Joe Manchin—then major legislation would no longer automatically tank. Now, Sinema’s decision has thrown all of that up in the air once more.

Sinema has not said if she will run for reelection, but she told Politico she also would not caucus with Republicans. She said she intends to vote the same way she has for the past four years.

Her spokeswoman told reporters that Sinema “intends to maintain her committee assignments through the Democrats. She has not ever and will not attend caucus messaging and organizational meetings.”

But considering her history, there would seem to be small comfort in that.

The Chaos Maker: Kyrsten Sinema Ditches the Democrats

The Arizona senator says “nothing will change about my values or my behavior,” but Democrats should be forgiven for not taking much solace in that.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Friday started out with an undeniable political bombshell: Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the former-Green Party-turned-conservative-Democrat, has decided to once again switch parties and become an Independent. She’s making this announcement through embargoed news interviews and an op-ed in The Arizona Republic. She also taped a short two-minute video:

Sinema throughout the Biden administration has been a thorn in Democrats’ side. She managed to leverage her way into countless one-on-one meetings with President Biden as she dangled her support for the Biden administration’s Build Back Better set of proposals. There were always rumors floating around that Sinema would leave the party and maybe, just maybe, even join the Senate Republican caucus.

Turns out Sinema was in fact toying with leaving the party. She says she’s going to continue to caucus with Democrats and get her committee assignments. Her announcement, conspicuously, comes after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was reelected majority leader and after Senator Raphael Warnock won reelection out in Georgia. Democrats’ majority is not in full jeopardy. She told Schumer of her decision on Thursday.

At the same time though, when Sinema says “nothing will change about my values or my behavior,” Democrats should be forgiven for not taking much solace in that. Sinema has established herself as a Democrat open to bucking the party. She may not be a Republican now, but her decision to shrink the actual Democratic majority back to 50 seats scrambles the dynamic, gives Senator Joe Manchin more power, and opens Sinema up to doing pretty much what she’s always done: whatever she wants.

In a round of snap interviews with some top Democratic Senate staffers Friday morning, one predicted to me that Senate Democratic leadership will continue to engage with her the way they have: “not an automatic vote on tough issues.” That’s been the status quo up until now but given the opportunity to make things slightly easier for the Democratic Party, Sinema, once again, opted to go in a different direction.

Her future is unclear. She won’t say whether she will run for reelection. It’s up to Schumer and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to decide whether it will provide air cover for her if she does or let an extended Democratic primary in a purple state sort itself out. Congressman Ruben Gallego, a potential candidate for Sinema’s seat, is already interviewing consultants, according to Politico. What’s clear in terms of that 2024 race and the Democratic Party’s agenda now is that it all just got a little more chaotic.

Thousand of Airport Workers Across the Country Strike

The workers are pushing for a bill in Congress that would bring better pay and working conditions.

Photo by Horacio Villalobos/Corbis/Getty Images
Few passengers are seen in Humberto Delgado International Airport, due to a strike called by the National Union of Aviation Flight Personnel, or SNPVAC, on December 8, in Lisbon, Portugal, in solidarity with U.S. airport workers.

On Thursday, thousands of airport workers from at least 15 American airports rallied to call for better working conditions. In three airports—Boston Logan International, Chicago’s O’Hare International, and Newark Liberty International—workers went on a full strike, calling attention to unfair labor practices by their employer, Swissport USA and Swissport Cargo, including poor working conditions and improper payment and wage theft.

The workers are pushing Congress to pass the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act. The bill would introduce national wage and benefit standards, setting a $15 minimum wage for all airport service workers (including those working at vendors like restaurants or retail stores) and baseline benefit standards for paid time off and health care.

Introduced in June by Representative Jesús “Chuy” Garcia and Senator Ed Markey, the bill holds 15 Senate and 89 House co-sponsors. There has been little Republican support for the bill, even as Republicans last week pretended to care about America’s rail workers.

Senators Markey, Blumenthal, Schumer, as well as Representative Garcia and D.C. House Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton appeared alongside workers on Thursday in Washington, D.C., lobbying for the bill’s passage.

Resonance with the rail workers’ struggle can’t be missed. “We don’t get enough paid time off. We’re supposed to get a week of paid sick days. But we’re so short-staffed they make it almost impossible for you to take a sick day,” said Omar Rodriguez, a ramp agent and cabin cleaner employed by Swissport USA, in a statement provided by the SEIU. “We get blamed for delays, but we’re only given a few minutes to clean and don’t have enough people to do the work.”

“No one wants to stay because the pay and benefits are not enough for what we do,” he added.

The Latest NDAA Has Sparked an Unexpected Debate Over Judicial Security and the First Amendment

The just-passed defense spending bill includes provisions designed to protect judges from violence. But legal journalists say these measures infringe on their rights.

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Abortion rights protesters demonstrate outside U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's home on June 27, in Alexandria, Virginia.

The House of Representatives passed the behemoth $858 billion annual defense bill on Thursday in a 350–80 vote. Among its many provisions is one aimed at improving security for federal judges, which became part of the final bill despite some criticism from judicial watchdog groups.

The provision, known as the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2022, would generally forbid the unauthorized disclosure of a judge’s personal information or that of an immediate family member. It would cover home addresses, phone numbers, license plate details, and information about next of kin’s workplaces, schools, and daycares, and similar data.

The bill is named after the son of Judge Esther Salas, whose New Jersey home was targeted in an apparent assassination attempt in 2020. The gunman killed Daniel and wounded Salas’s husband before fleeing the scene. Local police later identified the assailant as Roy Den Hollander, a lawyer against whom Salas had previously ruled on a procedural matter. He died by suicide before he could be apprehended. After her son’s death, Salas advocated for stronger security protections for federal judges. New Jersey’s two senators, Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, introduced the bill that eventually became part of the defense budget package this week.

Attacks on the federal judiciary are relatively rare in the United States but not unheard of. Three federal judges were assassinated in the twentieth century and a fourth, John Roll, was killed when a gunman attacked an event held by then–Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords in 2011. In 2005, Judge Joan Lefkow’s husband and mother were murdered in a targeted attack in suburban Chicago. The U.S. Marshals Service, which is charged with protecting judges and courthouses, has told Congress that the number of threats has increased in recent years.

The bill’s breadth nonetheless drew some criticism in recent days from judicial transparency advocates and from some journalists. The Free Law Project, a nonprofit group that tracks the federal courts, said the bill was “unconstitutional” and warned that it would lead to censorship against them. “If this bill becomes law, we’ll have to fight it in court or take down vital accountability information from our site,” the group wrote on Twitter on Wednesday night. “This is not OK.” Fix the Court, a Supreme Court–oriented watchdog group, also described it as “clearly unconstitutional.”

Much of the criticism centered on provisions that would allow immediate members of a judge’s family to take down information about their employers. “Lawmakers have just added a provision to the National Defense Authorization Act protecting Supreme Court spouses from having to reveal any outside employer, in the name of security,” Jane Mayer, a New Yorker staff writer who has written about the Supreme Court justices, claimed on Wednesday. “If it passes, Ginni Thomas’s professional entanglements would effectively be state secrets.” Thomas, who is married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has come under intense scrutiny over the last two years for her ties to groups that sought to overthrow the 2020 election.

If signed into law, the bill could face legal challenges from websites and publishers that decline to take down information about judges’ families. Those challenges would then have to survive the scrutiny of federal judges who have watched with concern as the number of threats against them grew in recent years. Any lawsuit would also likely face the ultimate test before the Supreme Court, most of whose members saw protests outside their homes after the court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade earlier this year. Persuading them to make it easier to disclose private information about their family members might be a tall order for any lawyer.

First Gen Z Member of Congress Says He Can’t Find an Apartment Due to Bad Credit

Representative-elect Maxwell Frost said he was denied an apartment in Washington, D.C., due to his “really bad” credit.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Representative-elect Maxwell Frost

On Thursday, Representative-elect Maxwell Frost, who will become the first Gen Z member of Congress, said he was denied an apartment in Washington, D.C., due to his “really bad” credit. He also lost his application fee.

Such an outcome is familiar to many. After all, housing nationwide seems to only get increasingly expensive, as landlords and rental companies enjoy the mountain of fees they rake in from renters desperate to find a home.

The ridiculousness of it all is only heightened while individuals elected to serve in the nation’s capital can’t even afford to live there.

Like Frost, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was a member who, upon arriving in D.C. in 2018, had trouble finding housing before receiving her congressional salary of $174,000.

Frost explained that his credit worsened after he ran up debt while campaigning over the past year and a half, noting he did not make enough money driving for Uber.

“It isn’t magic that we won our very difficult race,” Frost wrote. “I quit my full time job cause I knew that to win at 25 yrs old, I’d need to be a full time candidate. 7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day. It’s not sustainable or right but it’s what we had to do.”

The amount of money a candidate has is important—particularly if you are a challenger like Frost or Ocasio-Cortez, whose races required all the more time and effort to win.

How difficult it is for someone to get involved in a country’s politics tells you something about said country. Especially if that country purports to be a “representative democracy.” Frost offers yet another example of how America really does not encourage working people—who perhaps need the most advocacy in halls of power—to get involved.

Full List of 169 Republicans Who Voted Against Protecting Same-Sex Marriage

The Respect for Marriage Act seeks to protect same-sex and interracial marriage. 169 Republicans voted against.

Maria Belen Perez Gabilondo/AFP/Getty Images

Here are the representatives who voted Thursday against the Respect for Marriage Act, which protects same-sex and interracial marriage. All 169 are Republicans.

  1. Robert Aderholt
  2. Rick Allen
  3. Mark Amodei
  4. Jodey Arrington
  5. Brian Babin
  6. Jim Baird
  7. Troy Balderson
  8. Jim Banks
  9. Andy Barr
  10. Cliff Bentz
  11. Jack Berman
  12. Stephanie Bice
  13. Andy Biggs
  14. Gus Bilirakis
  15. Dan Bishop
  16. Lauren Boebert
  17. Mike Bost
  18. Mo Brooks
  19. Vern Buchanan
  20. Ken Buck
  21. Larry Bucshon
  22. Ted Budd
  23. Tim Burchett
  24. Michael Burgess
  25. Jerry Carl
  26. Buddy Carter
  27. John Carter
  28. Madison Cawthorn
  29. Stave Chabot
  30. Ben Cline
  31. Michael Cloud
  32. Andrew Clyde
  33. Tom Cole
  34. James Comer
  35. Connie Conway
  36. Rick Crawford
  37. Dan Crenshaw
  38. Warren Davidson
  39. Scott DesJarlais
  40. Mario Diaz-Balart
  41. Byron Donalds
  42. Jeff Duncan
  43. Neal Dunn
  44. Jake Ellzey
  45. Ron Estes
  46. Pat Fallon
  47. Randy Feenstra
  48. Drew Ferguson
  49. Brad Finstad
  50. Michelle Fischbach
  51. Scott Fitzgerald
  52. Chuck Fleischmann
  53. Mike Flood
  54. Mayra Flores
  55. Virginia Foxx
  56. Scott Franklin
  57. Russ Fulcher
  58. Matt Gaetz
  59. Bob Gibbs
  60. Louie Gohmert
  61. Bob Good
  62. Lance Gooden
  63. Paul Gosar
  64. Kay Granger
  65. Garret Graves
  66. Sam Graves
  67. Mark Green
  68. Marjorie Taylor Greene
  69. Morgan Griffith
  70. Glenn Grothman
  71. Michael Guest
  72. Brett Guthrie
  73. Andy Harris
  74. Diana Harshbarger
  75. Vicky Hartzler
  76. Kevin Hern
  77. Yvette Herrell
  78. Jody Hice
  79. Clay Higgins
  80. French Hill
  81. Richard Hudson
  82. Bill Huizenga
  83. Ronny Jackson
  84. Bill Johnson
  85. Dusty Johnson
  86. Mike Johnson
  87. Jim Jordan
  88. David Joyce
  89. Fred Keller
  90. Mike Kelly
  91. Trent Kelly
  92. Young Kim
  93. David Kustoff
  94. Darin LaHood
  95. Doug LaMalfa
  96. Doug Lamborn
  97. Bob Latta
  98. Jake LaTurner
  99. Debbie Lesko
  100. Julia Letlow
  101. Billy Long
  102. Barry Loudermilk
  103. Frank Lucas
  104. Blaine Luetkemeyer
  105. Tracey Mann
  106. Thomas Massie
  107. Brian Mast
  108. Kevin McCarthy
  109. Michael McCaul
  110. Lisa McClain
  111. Tom McClintock
  112. Patrick McHenry
  113. David McKinley
  114. Cathy McMorris Rodgers
  115. Dan Meuser
  116. Carol Miller
  117. Mary Miller
  118. John Moolenaar
  119. Alex Mooney
  120. Barry Moore
  121. Markwayne Mullin
  122. Greg Murphy
  123. Troy Nehls
  124. Ralph Norman
  125. Steven Palazzo
  126. Gary Palmer
  127. Greg Pence
  128. Scott Perry
  129. August Pfluger
  130. Bill Posey
  131. Guy Reschenthaler
  132. Hal Rogers
  133. Mike Rogers
  134. John Rose
  135. Matt Rosendale
  136. David Rouzer
  137. Chip Roy
  138. John Rutherford
  139. Maria Salazar
  140. Steve Scalise
  141. David Schweikert
  142. Austin Scott
  143. Joe Sempolinski
  144. Pete Sessions
  145. Adrian Smith
  146. Chris Smith
  147. Jason Smith
  148. Lloyd Smucker
  149. Victoria Sparts
  150. Pete Stauber
  151. Michelle Steel
  152. Greg Steube
  153. Van Taylor
  154. Claudia Tenney
  155. Glenn Thompson
  156. Tom Tiffany
  157. William Timmons
  158. Jefferson Van Drew
  159. Beth Van Duyne
  160. Tim Walberg
  161. Randy Weber
  162. Daniel Webster
  163. Brad Wenstrup
  164. Bruce Westerman
  165. Roger Williams
  166. Joe Wilson
  167. Rob Wittman
  168. Steve Womack
  169. Rudy Yakym