Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has yet to speak publicly about her views on Democrats’ last-minute budget package, but multiple reports Wednesday indicate that the centrist senator is seeking some changes to the legislation.
Axios’s Alayna Treene reports that Sinema wants to tweak the bill to include more funding for water security in the rapidly drying Southwest. Additionally, Sinema reportedly has concerns about the effects the 15% minimum corporate tax provisions will have on businesses and their employees, and may not support the effort to tighten the carried interest loophole that allows investment managers to pay a lower tax rate on some of their earnings.
Separately, Politico’s Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine report that Sinema wants to add $5 billion to the package for water resiliency efforts, and opposes tightening the carried interest loophole. The latter provision is estimated to raise $14 billion in revenue over 10 years, a relatively modest sum relative to the size of the overall package.
Overall, though, the changes sought by Sinema could reduce revenues by more than $100 billion, Bloomberg’s Laura Davison and Erik Wasson report.
Lobbying intensifies: While the Biden administration reportedly wants to avoid pressuring Sinema directly as she makes her decision, plenty of others have been seeking her ear.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) – whose last-minute agreement with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on a $740 billion package opened the door for Democrats to attempt to salvage at least part of their long-term agenda, with a focus on mitigating climate change, reducing drug prices and raising corporate tax revenues – was spotted speaking quietly to Sinema Tuesday as she presided over the Senate floor. Though silent on the details, Manchin said he had a “good talk” with his colleague. “She’ll make a decision based on the facts,” he told reporters.
Sinema also spent plenty of time talking to lawmakers from across the aisle. She spent more than an hour talking to Republicans on the Senate floor, Bloomberg Steven T. Dennis and Jenny Leonard report, including a lengthy conversation with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), as well as shorter discussions with Sens. Tom Cotton (AK), Rob Portman (OH), Marsha Blackburn (TN) and Mitt Romney (UT).
The conversations are part of a larger lobbying blitz from interested parties, including Democratic colleagues who desperately want the bill to pass and Republicans and business interests who very much want to kill it. Sinema has been meeting with business groups to hear their views on the subject, including the CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. Both the national Chamber of Commerce and its Arizona chapter are running ads pushing Sinema to vote against the bill.
A political network backed by billionaire libertarian Charles Koch is also taking aim at Sinema, as well as Manchin. The group Americans for Prosperity has launched online ads pressuring the lawmakers to pull the plug on the bill, which they say will exacerbate inflation. “Senator Sinema can stop it. Come on, Kyrsten ... Say NO for Arizona,” one ad says.
The bottom line: While Sinema has remained mum so far, some Democrats think she’ll get behind the bill, but only after demanding a few changes. The reporting Wednesday suggests this view may be right. If so, the question remains whether her demands can be satisfied while salvaging the basic structure of the overall bill.