- Sinema threatened to quash Biden's plan that included universal pre-K and childcare assistance if Pelosi didn't speed up on infrastructure, per the NYT.
- Pelosi cancelled a planned vote on infrastructure in late September due to progressive resistance.
- Sinema is one of two wild card Democratic votes on a spending bill carrying the bulk of Biden's agenda.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona threatened to sink a key part of President Joe Biden's economic agenda if the House didn't approve the stalled-out infrastructure package, per a New York Times report published Sunday.
The Times reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had set up a back channel in September with Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a pair of centrists with outsized sway over Biden's economic agenda. Democrats can't lose either of their votes for the spending plan to become law in the 50-50 Senate.
The paper reported Sinema had signaled in late September — through a friend, former Rep. Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts — that she would pull her support of the larger social spending, health and climate plan if Pelosi didn't act swiftly to pass the infrastructure plan.
At the same time, progressives were refusing to vote on the infrastructure bill without the social spending plan. This stalemate prompted Pelosi to yank a vote scheduled for September 30.
Sinema's office did not respond to a request for comment.
The infrastructure plan focused on roads and bridges eventually cleared the House with some GOP support earlier this month, with Biden signing it into law last week. House Democrats approved the so-called Build Back Better Act Friday morning on a party-line vote, barreling past united GOP opposition.
That measure would establish universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year olds and extend monthly cash payments to the most American families for another year. It would expand Medicare to cover hearing services, enact four weeks of paid family and medical leave, initiate federal prescription-drug price controls, and provide child-care subsidies. Democrats want to pay for it with tax increases on the richest Americans and large firms.
The legislation is now headed to the Senate with the prospect of more showdowns over taxes, paid leave, and the planned Medicare expansion. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he wants Senate Democrats to pass it by Christmas.
Neither Sinema nor Manchin have given the package a thumbs up yet, and Manchin says he doesn't see any urgency in approving the social spending bill by year's end.