Washington, Dec 9 (EFE).- Kyrsten Sinema, one of the two United States senators from Arizona, said Friday that she has decided to leave the Democratic Party and register as an independent.
The move will reduce the Democrats’ slim majority in the upper house of the US Congress, which had stood at 51-49 after Raphael Warnock’s victory over Herschel Walker on Tuesday in a Georgia runoff election but now stands at just 50-49.
There are also two other US senators who are registered as independents – Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine, both of whom caucus with the Democrats.
“In a natural extension of my service since I was first elected to Congress, I have joined the growing numbers of Arizonans who reject party politics by declaring my independence from the broken partisan system in Washington and formally registering as an Arizona Independent,” the senator said in a message posted Friday morning on her Twitter account.
Known for taking independent positions and at times defying the Democratic leadership on crucial votes, she recalled that over the past four years she has “proudly” worked with other senators to forge consensus on numerous bills and will continue to do the same going forward.
First elected US senator in 2018, Sinema has gradually moved to the right and, along with Joe Manchin, a senator from West Virginia, has provided key votes that blocked the legislative initiatives of President Joe Biden’s administration.
Sinema and Manchin have particularly irked Democrats by joining the GOP in upholding the filibuster, a procedural tool wielded by Senate minorities that effectively creates a 60-vote minimum to pass most legislation.
On other occasions she sided with Democrats to pass legislation such as Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, a bill meant to mitigate climate change, reduce health costs and raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
That bill passed the Senate and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives entirely on party lines, with its approval by a 51-50 tally in the upper house made possible due to the support of Sinema and Manchin and Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote.
Republicans were unable to filibuster the bill, which included $430 billion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and extend health care coverage, because Democrats got around it by using the special budget reconciliation process. EFE