OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
President Joe Biden’s team reacted to a snub this week from a Democratic senator who will play a vital role in determining whether his legislative agenda makes it through the chamber now that his party will control by one seat following Trump-backed Republican challenger Herschel Walker’s loss in Georgia on Tuesday.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) declined an offer to travel with Biden to her state aboard Air Force One when he visited on Tuesday, though two other Democrats, including fellow Sen. Mark Kelly, accepted an invite.
Biden traveled to Phoenix to visit the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. computer chip plant that is scheduled to begin production in 2024, but notably, he refused to travel to the chaotic southwestern border.
White House press secretary Karine Jean Pierre dismissed the snub in remarks to a press gaggle accompanying the flight after being asked if Sinema was invited.
“We always invite, as you know… when we go to a state, the president is always happy to give those congressional members in that state a ride on Air Force One to the state,” she said. “I can’t speak to Senator Sinema’s schedule.”
Jean-Pierre says that the White House invited Sinema to fly on Air Force One to Arizona today with them but she isn’t going hahaha. pic.twitter.com/rAYxMlKWw2
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) December 6, 2022
As of Tuesday afternoon, Sinema had not commented publicly about Biden’s trip to her state. Ahead of Biden’s visit, though, she and a bipartisan group of senators urged the secretaries of Commerce and Treasury “to consider the full semiconductor supply chain when awarding tax credits under the bipartisan CHIPS and Science law,” according to a press release from her office.
“While implementing our bipartisan CHIPS and Science law, the Administration must consider the full semiconductor supply chain before awarding tax credits to ensure Arizona semiconductor manufacturers can boost production, prevent supply chain bottlenecks, and reduce prices of goods,” she said.
Sinema has earned a reputation for being a moderate Democrat, choosing to work with Republicans on several issues and refusing — to the ire of many in her party — to go along with ditching the filibuster and signing on to major Biden spending initiatives. She has been joined by another moderate Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, in those regards.
The Western Journal opined in an op-ed:
Since entering the Senate in 2019, she has distanced herself from the Democratic Party with her refusal to toe its leadership’s partisan line. The dissident Democrat blocked partisan plans to abolish the Senate’s filibuster, preventing Senate Democrats from ramming through legislation to the president’s desk with only 50 votes.
And in early November, ahead of the midterm election, Sinema refused to attend a rally in Phoenix featuring former President Barack Obama, who was in town to campaign on behalf of now newly-reelected Sen. Mark Kelly.
Former top Trump adviser Steve Bannon predicted in early October that Sinema was going to switch to the GOP. The forecast came on the heels of an event attended by both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sinema.
During the event, which was held at the University of Kentucky in Louisville earlier this week, McConnell praised Sinema for her frequent displays of bipartisanship during an event at the McConnell Center during which he claimed she had been the “most effective first-term senator” he has seen during his Senate career, The Western Journal reported.
— Grace Chong 🇺🇸 (@gc22gc) September 27, 2022
Bannon was assuming that the GOP would regain control of the upper chamber, which is currently at 50-50, though Democrats control the body because Vice President Kamala Harris is the tiebreaker, adding if that happened, Sinema would caucus with Republicans.
“Senator Sinema is looking downrange at the ‘24 cycle when the Republicans will only increase the majority they win in the Senate in ‘22 …the ‘24 cycle is that strong — watch her switch parties or go ‘independent’ and caucus with the Majority,” Bannon noted on GETTR in a post containing a link to a story from The Hill which claimed that McConnell is “cozying up” to Sinema.
At the McConnell Center event, the Kentucky GOP leader said of Sinema: “She is, today, what we have too few of in the Democratic Party: a genuine moderate and a dealmaker.”