The obstructionist members of the Senate Democratic Caucus have been facing some in-person pushback for their failure to move President Biden’s agenda forward — or come up with any tangible reasons for threatening to unravel the administration’s signature effort before it can be put together. Last week, Joe Manchin was accosted by protesters kayaking outside his houseboat for his effort to chop down the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill, as the senator, who is swimming in coal money, explained from the deck of his $250,000 vessel why he was against Medicare expansion.
The protesters on the Potomac respected Manchin’s privacy a whole lot more than the activists who confronted Kyrsten Sinema this weekend on the campus of Arizona State University. Sinema flew home on Friday from Washington, D.C., for a doctor’s appointment and a fundraiser for her political action committee. On Sunday, Sinema was at ASU, where she is a lecturer at the school of social work, when she was approached by activists with the social-justice group LUCHA Arizona. “Actually, I am heading out,” Sinema told the activists, before walking into a bathroom, where she was followed by several members of the group who encouraged her to support the $3.5 trillion version of the infrastructure bill. One activist, who identified herself as Blanca, also encouraged Sinema to help establish a pathway to citizenship for undocumented migrants, describing how her grandparents were deported following a stop made legal by SB-1070, the state bill which effectively encourages racial profiling. (Several immigration provisions included in the bill were voided by the Senate parliamentarian last week.) A second video also showed the group confronting Sinema as she headed to a classroom.
“We need to hold you accountable to what you told us, what you promised us,” Blanca told Sinema. The senator, who has not really provided a concrete political reason to her colleagues for why she is holding up the bill — and setting herself up for a primary challenge down the line — did not respond to the young activists.
Following the incident, Sinema issued a statement saying that the “behavior was not legitimate protest” and that “it is unacceptable for activist organizations to instruct their members to jeopardize themselves by engaging in unlawful activities such as gaining entry to closed university buildings, disrupting learning environments, and filming students in a restroom.” Her comment did little to stop progressive activists from confronting her at Reagan National Airport and a DACA recipient who asked her about immigration reform on her flight: