With Democrats pleading for a deal on a hard-fought social safety net bill, one of the key holdouts, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, left Washington on Friday. The reason, her spokesman said, was a medical appointment for a foot injury.
But on Saturday, she is also scheduled to attend her political action committee’s “retreat” with donors at a high-end resort and spa in Phoenix, three different sources confirmed, including an attendee. The hotel also confirmed the event, which kicks off with a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, followed by a dinner.
Fund-raising for lawmakers is, of course, not unusual, but Ms. Sinema’s timing is sure to raise the level of frustration that her fellow Democrats are already feeling toward the senator. President Biden and congressional Democratic leaders are trying to hammer out a framework agreement on a climate change and social policy bill that can pass with the votes of every Senate Democrat and virtually every House Democrat.
That need for unanimity has given Ms. Sinema veto power. The senator, who is not up for re-election until 2024, has met repeatedly with White House negotiators, but some Democrats say she has not been engaged in the intense negotiations needed to at least come to agreement on a 10-year cost of the bill. In contrast, the other holdout, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, is remaining in Washington this weekend.
Earlier this week, Ms. Sinema’s “Sinema for Arizona” fund-raising arm held a Capitol Hill event with five business lobbying groups, many of which fiercely oppose the bill she is supposed to be negotiating. Under Ms. Sinema’s political logo, the influential National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and the grocers’ PAC, along with lobbyists for roofers and electrical contractors and a small business group called the S-Corp political action committee, invited association members to an undisclosed location on Tuesday afternoon for 45 minutes to write checks for between $1,000 and $5,800.
This weekend’s event is billed as a “retreat” for her political action committee.
The senator’s spokesman, John LaBombard, said on Friday, “Senator Sinema is in Phoenix currently where she has a medical appointment today for her broken foot, and where she continues remote negotiations with the White House. Before departing Washington for Arizona, she offered the White House times for continued remote negotiations.”
She was scheduled to begin her next call with White House officials at 2:30 p.m., he said.
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