Sen. Kyrsten Sinema criticized fellow Democrats for setting expectations too high for their political agenda in an interview with Politico published on Wednesday.
“You’re either honest or you’re not honest,” the first-term Arizona senator said. “So just tell the truth and be honest and deliver that which you can deliver. There’s this growing trend of people in both political parties who promise things that cannot be delivered, in order to get the short-term political gain. And I believe that it damages the long-term health of our democracy.”
Responding to criticism that she is harming her own party by disagreeing with fellow Democrats on key policy issues, Sinema said “I’ve been concerned at the push that happens in both parties, this push to have no disagreements. To only have unity or to only speak with one voice. And some will say, ‘Oh, that is our strength.’ Having some disagreement is normal. It is real, it is human. And it’s an opportunity for us as mature beings to work through it.”
Her comments come as House Democrats try to pass President Joe Biden’s party-line spending bill that is far smaller than what they had hoped, mainly due to objections from Sinema and fellow centrist Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Sinema explained that she generally backs adding paid leave to the social spending bill but not increasing tax rates on corporations and some high-income earners, stressing she “will not support tax policies that have a negative impact on our economic climate.”
However, she refused to reveal more in the Politico interview, saying that “If you’re in the middle of negotiating things that are delicate or difficult … doing it in good faith directly with each other is the best way to get to an outcome. I’m still in the process of negotiating the second provision of the president’s agenda … and I don’t negotiate in the press.”
Sinema has also expressed frustration with criticism of her fashion choices, saying it is something with which her male colleagues do not have to contend.
The statements about her fashion taste are “very inappropriate,” she said. “I wear what I want because I like it. It’s not a news story, and it’s no one’s business. It’s not helpful to have [coverage] be positive or negative. It also implies that somehow women are dressing for someone else.”
Despite her disagreements with progressives on some parts of their agenda, Sinema has apparently gained respect from at least some of them.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren described he Democrat colleague as “very focused” and consistent, saying “It’s always frustrating to negotiate with someone with whom you have differences. That’s the nature of the beast. But she clearly wants to make a deal, and I respect that.”