September has arrived, and with it comes Labor Day weekend. After that, the month this year has more than the normal push to get down to business in Washington. Some extra-big decisions on spending tax dollars are before Congress.
Meanwhile, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has been out talking to Arizonans about issues, especially infrastructure spending. Such trips always are very political in nature, but she obviously made a sincere effort to hear the concerns of local leaders during an area meeting at Casa Grande City Hall last week.
Specifically on the table was the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill advancing in Congress. And elected officials at all levels always have infrastructure needs, so there was much to talk about. Not discussed but looming in the background, however, was a massive $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that progressive Democrats are wanting to pass while Republicans hope to block it. That is not only because of the price tag but also because of the ways it would grow government and spread its influence into more aspects of American life.
Democratic moderates like Sinema have criticized the price tag, and ultimately she and likely Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia will be key players in deciding what gets passed. The progressives led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won a partial victory in holding up the $1 trillion bill, although she agreed to give it a vote by late September. Democrats for the most part want the two tied together, and leadership also is pushing for military cuts after the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, which would be a mistake.
Besides the price tag, Sinema has opposed killing the Senate filibuster rule, meaning whatever gets passed will have to be by a simple majority under the budget reconciliation process. Many Arizonans appreciate her independence in holding out on both counts. Among them no doubt were many of the Pinal leaders she met with, who were happy to talk about infrastructure. Through both that conversation and her independent nature, Sinema is proving she represents all of Arizona.
— Donovan Kramer Jr.