Biden said privately he has no idea why Sen. Sinema is trying to stop his legislative agenda, book says
Tom Porter – March 16, 2022
- President Joe Biden is baffled by Sen. Sinema’s hostility to his agenda, a new book says.
- An aide compared describing her motives to trying to explain TikTok to Biden, per an extract in Axios.
- Sinema has blocked Biden’s attempt to reform the filibuster to pass election reform.
President Joe Biden privately expressed perplexity at why Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona helped block key parts of his legislative agenda, according to extracts from a new book published by Axios.
The book, “This Will Not Pass,” by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, is the first major account of the first year of the Biden administration.
It details the obstacles the president has encountered in getting key parts of his legislative agenda through Congress, where the Democrats hold a razor-thin Senate majority.
Among the key hurdles has been the opposition by Sinema to Biden’s plans to temporarily reform the Senate’s filibuster rule, which has been used by Republicans to stop legislation the White House wants.
The extract details a number of times Sinema opposed Biden, including one occasion when she asked why she should wear a COVID mask in his presence.
“She became the first-ever lawmaker to argue with White House aides when they asked her to wear a face mask in the company of the president, repeatedly asking why that was necessary when she had been vaccinated,” the book said.
Opposition to mask rules has been one of the rallying points of Republicans hostile to Biden’s COVID policies.
Per the book, she also discouraged the president from visiting Arizona after signing his COVID relief bill in 2021.
It also said she attended a GOP fundraiser where she mocked Biden and praised Rep. Andy Briggs, an Arizona GOP lawmaker who has defended Donald Trump’s election-fraud conspiracy theories and spread disinformation about the Jan 6 riot.
The extract says that Biden has struggled to grasp the reasons for Sinema’s behavior.
“One person close to the president likened Biden’s perplexity at Sinema to his difficulty grasping his grandchildren’s use of … TikTok. He wanted to relate, but he just didn’t quite get it,” the authors write.
Biden has faced opposition from another Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, in seeking to pass one of the other central planks of his domestic legislative agenda — his $2.7 trillion Build Back Better spending bill.
With many Democrats fearing Republican gains in the mid-terms, Biden in his first State of the Union speech in March indicated he was seeking to achieve more limited legislative priorities.