A key Democrat said Wednesday she will not support a proposed $3.5 trillion spending plan that her party had hoped to ram through the Senate without support from Republicans.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) said in a statement, “I support many of the goals in this proposal to continue creating jobs, growing American competitiveness, and expanding economic opportunities for Arizonans … I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion.”
The announcement means Democrats will likely need to reduce the scope of the legislation to secure the support of Sinema and her fellow moderate, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). With the Senate split 50-50, Democrats cannot afford to have a single member of their conference defect if they want to pass a so-called “reconciliation” bill with just 51 votes.
The $3.5 trillion plan, backed by socialist Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would have called for a massive infusion of cash for education initiatives like universal pre-kindergarten, Medicare expansion, efforts to counter the effects of climate change, and more.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) lashed out at Sinema over her announcement Wednesday, tweeting: “Good luck tanking your own party’s investment on childcare, climate action, and infrastructure while presuming you’ll survive a 3 vote House margin – especially after choosing to exclude members of color from negotiations and calling that a ‘bipartisan accomplishment.’”
Sinema is also one of the key negotiators on a bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Earlier Wednesday, another negotiator, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) told reporters that the group had reached “agreement on the major issues” and was “prepared to move forward.”
“We do expect to move forward this evening, we’re very excited to have a deal,” Sinema confirmed to reporters, adding that the group already has “most of the text done, so we’ll be releasing it today, and then we’ll update it as we get those last pieces finalized.”
Senate Republicans blocked a procedural vote on the smaller bill set by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on the grounds that the bill was not yet finished. Democrats had hoped to pass the $1.2 billion plan before turning their attention to the larger reconciliation measure.
On the House side, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has repeatedly said that she will not bring the bipartisan plan up for a vote until the Senate passes a larger reconciliation measure. Pelosi stood by that plan again on Wednesday.
“The point is we have to see it. Have you seen it?” she told reporters. “We are rooting for it. We’re hoping for the best. That’s good news, just as we came in … [we heard] that they thought they were even closer. We’ve heard that before.”