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Kyrsten Sinema leaves the Democratic Party and registers as an independent





CNN

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is leave the Democratic Party and signed up as a political independent, she told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an exclusive TV interview.

“I am registered as an independent resident in Arizona. I know some people might be a little surprised by this, but really, I think it makes a lot of sense,” Sinema said in an interview Thursday with Tapper in her Senate office.

“I have never lain neatly in any of the party boxes. I never really tried. I don’t want to,” she added. “Removing myself from the party structure – not only true to who I am and the way I operate, I think it will provide a place of belonging for many across the state and country, who who is also tired of partisanship.”

Sinema’s departure from the Democratic Party is unlikely to change the balance of power in the next Senate. Democrats will have a narrow 51-49 majority consisting of two independents meeting behind closed doors: Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine.

While Sanders and King officially closed with Democrats, Sinema declined to say explicitly that she would do the same. However, she did note that she is eager to keep her committee duties – a signal that she has no plans to change the Senate composition, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer control the Democratic Party committee list.

“When I come to work every day, it will be the same,” says Sinema. “I will still come to work and hope to serve on the same committees I have served on and continue to work well with my colleagues in both political parties.”

But Sinema’s decision to become a political independent makes the Arizona senator long a full-fledged independent, who began his political career as a member of the Party. Green before being elected a Democrat to the US House of Representatives in 2012 and the US Senate in 2018 Sinema has prided himself on being a thorn in the side of Democratic leaders, and the new nonpartisan relationship Her move will give her more freedom to take up the anti-nuclear position in the Senate, though it raises new questions about how she – and Senate Democrats — will approach her re-election in 2024 with libertarians already weighing a challenge.

Sinema wrote an op-ed in the Arizona Republic published Friday explained her decision, noting that her approach in the Senate has “annoyed parties on both sides of the aisle.”

“When politicians focus on denying the opposition party victory rather than improving the lives of Americans, the losers are everyday Americans,” Sinema wrote.

“That’s why I’ve joined the growing number of Arizonans rejecting partisan politics by declaring independence from Washington’s broken partisan system.”

Sinema is set to run for re-election in 2024, and Arizona liberals have been emerging potential opponents, including Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego, who said earlier this year that some Democratic senator urged him to run against Sinema.

“Unfortunately, Senator Sinema has once again put his own interests ahead of getting things done for the people of Arizona,” Gallego said in a statement following Sinema’s announcement.

Sinema declined to address questions about her reelection bid during the interview with Tapper, saying that simply isn’t her focus right now.

She also brushed off criticism she may face for her decision to leave the Democratic Party.

“I just don’t worry about people who might not like this approach,” Sinema said. “What I’m worried about is continuing to do what’s right for my state. And there are people who definitely don’t like my approach, we’ve heard about it a lot. But the proof is in the pudding.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called Sinema an “important partner” after her decision and said the White House has “every reason to expect that we will continue to work successfully with she”.

Sources familiar with the matter told CNN that Sinema had informed the White House in advance that she was leaving the Democratic Party. Schumer said in a statement that he was also aware of Sinema’s sensational announcement before Friday morning.

“She asked me to stay on her committee and I agreed,” Schumer said. “Kyrsten is independent; that’s how she’s always been. I believe she is a good and effective Senator and am looking forward to a productive session in the new Democratic majority.”

Schumer also made it clear that he doesn’t expect Sinema’s decision to affect the Democratic Party’s plans for next year, in his statement, saying: “We will maintain our new majority in the election. committees, exercise their subpoena power and may remove nominees without annuling the vote.”

The Biden White House is issuing a silent response Friday morning and stressed that it expects to continue to have a productive working relationship with the senator.

A White House official told CNN the move “doesn’t change much” beyond Sinema’s own re-election calculations.

“We have worked with her effectively on a wide variety of major legislation from CHIPS to bipartisan infrastructure legislation,” the official said. For now, the White House has “every reason to expect that to continue,” they added.

Sinema has long been the source of a complex convergence of possibility, frustration and confusion inside the White House.

“The Rubik’s Cube, I guess?” that’s how a former senior White House official describes the Arizona senator, who played a central role in President Joe Biden’s biggest legislative victories and also some of the biggest disappointments in the show. his agenda.

There was no major incentive for Sinema to change his mind, a White House official said, noting that it wouldn’t make a difference.

A White House official said: “Nothing in the past two years has shown that a major effort will help – quite the contrary, in fact.

The most urgent near-term effort is to quietly learn what it means for their newly expanded Senate majority, officials said.

While there are still obvious details to learn about the process, “I think people have breathed a sigh of relief as we get a better idea of ​​what she means,” said a source familiar with the discussion.

Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota told “CNN This Morning” that “Senator Sinema has always taken an independent stance,” adding that “I don’t believe this is going to shake things up as people do.” think.”

She added, “Senator Sinema is an independent man of all intents and purposes.”

Sinema and West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin have angered liberals at various points over the past two years, thwarting Biden’s agenda at a time when Democrats control the House. House, Senate, and White House.

Sinema and Manchin have used their influence in the current 50-50 Senate – where any Democrat can screw up a bill – to influence a range of legislation, particularly the bill. The $3.5 trillion Build Back Better that Biden proposed last year. Sinema’s opposition to the corporate tax rate hike during the initial round of negotiations on the law last year has particularly alarmed liberals.

While Sinema was blinded by the surprise deal Manchin signed with Schumer in July on major energy and healthcare legislation, she ended up supporting the smaller spending package Biden signed into law before election.

Both Manchin and Sinema also opposed changes to the Senate’s filming rules despite pressure from their Senate colleagues and Biden to change them. After a vote against the film’s changes in January, the Arizona Democratic Party executive criticized Sinema.

Sinema is in the midst of several key bipartisan bills that have been passed since Biden took office. She points to that record as proof that her approach is an effective one.

“I am honored to be leading historic efforts, from infrastructure, to preventing gun violence, protecting religious freedom and helping LGBT families feel safe, to CHIP and science law to the work we’ve done on veterans’ issues,” she told CNN. “The list is really long. And so I think the results speak for themselves. It’s okay if some people aren’t comfortable with that approach.”

Sinema’s announcement comes just days after Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock was re-elected in Georgia, securing Democrats a 51st Senate seat, freeing them from dependence on an unjust ballot. victory and defeat of Vice President Kamala Harris.

Sinema declined to answer questions about whether she would support Biden for president in 2024, and she also said she doesn’t think about whether a strong third party should emerge in the US. are not.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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