Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., opted not to support a joint statement condemning protesters who followed Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., into a bathroom because the condemnation did not rebuke Sinema’s moderate political views.
The email chain was the first to announce the decision. reported by Axios. The leaked emails emphasize the division between Democrats’ moderate and left wings as they search for compromise on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and their $3.5 trillion spending package. The emails show that Sanders wanted the statement to urge Sinema to back Democrats’ desired drug pricing reforms and endorse the package, which she has refused to do.
In one email, Mike Casca, Sanders’ communications director, asked that the statement be prefaced, “While we hope Senator Sinema will change her position on prescription drug reform and support a major reconciliation bill.” After an aide to Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said the edit would not be made, Casca replied that Sanders would not be signing the statement.
“Sanders will not be signing, so please cut ‘Senate Democratic Leadership Team’ from headline,” Casca wrote.
Booker, Majority leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Senators were also included. Axios reported that Dick Durbin of Illinois and Mark Warner of Virginia, Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, Joe Manchin in West Virginia, Amy Klobuchar in Minnesota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Catherine Cortez–Masto from Nevada all added their names. However, the statement has not yet been published.
The protesters followed Sinema into a bathroom at Arizona State University on Sunday, and they were widely condemned after imagery emerged of them pressing the senator to back immigration reform in her party’s budget while she used the bathroom.
Sinema said the confrontation was “not legitimate protest” in a statement Monday, calling their actions “wholly inappropriate.”
President Joe Biden said he thought the protesters’ actions were not “appropriate,” but he added that “this happens to everybody” and that “it’s part of the process.”
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