On Friday, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema and a handful of other Democrats voted to kill an amendment that would have added a provision to the covid-19 relief bill to slowly raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour, a major promise the Democratic Party made to voters during the 2020 elections.
Sinema wasn’t the only one who voted against the $15/hour minimum wage, but to add extreme insult to injury, Sinema appeared to take a special glee in casting her “no” vote:
Tracy Flick would like a word!
As if Sinema’s vote and the pep in her step weren’t clear enough, in a statement, she justified her vote to not include the $15/hour wage hike in the covid-19 relief bill by claiming that while she “know[s] the difference better wages can make” and supported Arizona’s move to gradually raise the minimum wage to $12/hour in 2016, she believes that “the Senate should hold an open debate and amendment process on raising the minimum wage, separated from the COVID-focused reconciliation bill.”
Why exactly she believes that’s the way to go isn’t clear. One can guess that she wants to give the effort some sort of fake bipartisan gloss, but why? As the 2016 vote to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12/hour showed, voters in the state really, really like the idea of not making poverty wages, a reality that her fellow Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly seemed to be well aware of when he voted “yes” on Friday.
But it’s not just on raising the minimum wage to $15/hour where Sinema is at odds with many of her Democratic colleagues. Take her stance on keeping the filibuster, which she has made very, very clear in recent weeks, as has West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. As Sinema wrote in an email defending her view that the filibuster is necessary despite the Republican Party’s grim commitment to blocking any and all legislation proposed by Democrats from passing, she believes that “debate on bills should be a bipartisan process that takes into account the views of all Americans, not just those of one political party.” She continued, “Regardless of the party in control of the Senate, respecting the opinions of senators from the minority party will result in better, common-sense legislation. My position remains exactly the same now that I serve in the majority. While eliminating the filibuster may result in some short-term legislative gains, it would deepen partisan divisions and sacrifice the long-term health of our government.”
What Sinema is choosing to conveniently ignore here, under the guise of a plea for bipartisanship, is that Republicans quite simply don’t give a fuck about passing legislation that is wildly popular if blocking it means they can screw over Democrats, nor do they care about the “long-term health of our government.” I mean, c’mon, even Amy Klobuchar recognizes that the Senate needs to eliminate the filibuster in order for the Democratic majority to get anything done!
And here’s why I find Sinema’s proclamations that she supports a higher minimum wage to be at least a little suspect—top Senate Republicans have already announced that they favor raising the minimum wage to a far lower amount, meaning that whatever happens through a “bipartisan” process will frankly suck. Congratulations on doing your part to screw over hundreds of thousands of your constituents, girl!