REPORT: Sinema Threatened To Derail Biden Build Back Better Plan After Taking $920K From Corporate Interests
Washington, D.C. — As Congress moves forward on President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda that will hold corporations accountable by making them pay their fair share, an analysis from government watchdog Accountable.US reveals that Senator Kyrsten Sinema — who has recently threatened to “derail“ the reconciliation bill — has taken at least $923,000 from the industry groups leading the lobbying blitz against the Build Back Better agenda, or from the individual corporations these groups represent.
Accountable.US’s analysis found that Senator Sinema received $6,000 from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce PAC — whose leadership boards are packed with corporations that have given her $448,365 — that have vowed to do “everything we can” to block Biden’s budget after offering Sinema a “reward” for resisting Biden’s agenda earlier this year.
“Of the set of lawmakers working to slow down or completely stop progress on the Biden administration’s $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, almost no one is more famous—or infamous—than Senator Kyrsten Sinema. The Arizona Democrat has styled herself as a moderate and underscored that position by vowing to oppose the reconciliation bill at its current $3.5 trillion price tag.
That’s won her one-on-one meetings with President Biden. It’s won her an endless stream of press coverage. And it’s won her something else: support from major business entities working to gut parts of the reconciliation package or the entire bill overall.
Accountable.US, the liberal nonprofit group, has compiled a report of donations to Sinema from organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and PhRMA, groups actively working to trip up the reconciliation package, a key pillar of Biden’s domestic policy agenda.
The report tallies that Sinema has received “at least $923,065 from the industry groups leading this charge against the Build Back Better budget or from the individual corporations these groups represent.” The report centers on five interest groups: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, the RATE Coalition, the National Association of Manufacturers, and PhRMA.
“Super-rich corporations have given Senator Sinema nearly a million reasons to vote against making them pay their fair share in taxes,” Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, said in a statement. “Make no mistake, if she sides with her wealthy donors and kills popular investments to jump-start the economy, everyday families—including across Arizona—will pay the price.”
Sinema’s current objections to the package, according to The Washington Post, center on whittling down “some of the aid more narrowly based on income and economic status” in proposals, like new funding for community colleges and prekindergarten. It’s a move liberals have become familiar with to their chagrin. It’s also something that gives Sinema tremendous leverage in a Senate split 50-50 where Democrats need every member of their caucus to vote in lock step to pass any legislation at all.
The groups highlighted by the Accountable.US are certainly trying to persuade her otherwise. In total, the Chamber of Commerce and its leadership boards have given Sinema over $448,000. The organization’s objections include its high price tag and possible high tax increases.
The Business Roundtable, the report says, gave the Arizona senator $187,000. The Roundtable’s president and CEO, Joshua Bolten, said his group’s major concern “potential tax increases on U.S. job creators that would counteract the benefits of infrastructure investment.” The group has also publicly praised Sinema’s approach to the infrastructure bill the Biden administration has coupled to the reconciliation package.
The RATE Coalition’s members gave her $210,000. The coalition, which aims to keep corporate taxes down, represents FedEX, Lockheed Martin, Capitol One, and Disney. Former Senator Blanche Lincoln, the coalition’s chief adviser, said “any increase in the rate would position our country even further behind global competitors like China.”
And PhRMA has poured $15 million into lobbying against the reconciliation package in 2021. It gave Sinema $6,000, and its major members gave $23,000. Its objections are on Democrats’ drug pricing proposals, which would be a potential source of revenue for the package. Sinema herself has privately indicated to the White House she opposes the drug pricing reforms in the package. She has signaled opposition to a part of the package that lets Medicare negotiate pricing for prescription drugs.
Sinema’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Still, the donations and the report itself underscore the battle lines Democrats are forced to pay attention to as they try and move the reconciliation bill through Congress. No lawmaker, realistically, expects the budget proposals to not pass through Congress. But liberal Democrats do worry that the sausage-making process will dramatically weaken the provisions in there to a point where it tries to do way too much with too little money.
The Accountable.US report is also yet another sign of the ongoing tensions between Sinema and the rest of her party—so much so that a watchdog nonprofit wants to take aim at her and the more traditional corporate entities organizations like that cover.”