|United States Senator|
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2019
Serving with Mark Kelly
|Preceded by||Jeff Flake|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Arizona's 9th district
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2019
|Preceded by||Constituency established|
|Succeeded by||Greg Stanton|
|Member of the Arizona Senate|
from the 15th district
January 10, 2011 – January 3, 2012
|Preceded by||Ken Cheuvront|
|Succeeded by||David Lujan|
|Member of the Arizona House of Representatives|
from the 15th district
January 10, 2005 – January 10, 2011
|Preceded by||Wally Straughn|
|Succeeded by||Lela Alston|
Kyrsten Lea Sinema
July 12, 1976
Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
|Political party||Democratic (2004–present)|
|Green (before 2004)|
|Spouse(s)||Blake Dain (divorced)|
|Education||Brigham Young University (BA)|
Arizona State University, Tempe (MSW, JD, PhD)
Kyrsten Lea Sinema (/ / KEER-stən SIN-ə-mə; born July 12, 1976) is an American politician, former social worker, and lawyer serving as the senior United States Senator from Arizona. A Democrat from Arizona, she served three terms as a state representative for the 15th legislative district from 2005 to 2011, one term as the state senator for the 15th legislative district from 2011 to 2012, and three terms as the United States Representative for the 9th district from 2013 to 2019.
Sinema began her political career in the Arizona Green Party and rose to prominence for her progressive advocacy, supporting causes such as LGBT rights and opposing the war on terror. She left the Green Party to join the Arizona Democratic Party in 2004 and was elected to a seat in the United States House of Representatives in 2012. After her election, she joined the New Democrat Coalition, the Blue Dog Coalition and the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, amassing one of the most conservative voting records in the Democratic caucus. She won the 2018 Senate election to replace the retiring Jeff Flake, defeating Republican nominee Martha McSally. Sinema is the first openly bisexual and the second openly LGBT woman (after Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin) to be elected to the House of Representatives and to the Senate in 2012 and 2018, respectively. She also was the first woman elected to the Senate from Arizona.
According to the nonpartisan organization GovTrack.us, Sinema is the most conservative Democrat in the Senate and has a voting record rated more conservative than Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins. During Donald Trump's presidency she voted in agreement with him 50.4% of the time, the third-highest of any Democratic senator.
Early life and education
Kyrsten Lea Sinema was born in Tucson, Arizona, on July 12, 1976, to Marilyn (Wiley) and Dan Sinema. Her great-great-grandfather Lieuwe Jacobs Sinnema (1863–1941) immigrated at a young age with his father Jacob Jans Sinnema (1830–1903) to the United States in 1867 from the village of Bitgum, in the Dutch province of Friesland. They came to Sioux City, Iowa, and later her great-great-grandfather settled in Twin Falls, Idaho, where her great-grandfather Jacob Sinema (1892–1963) and grandfather Gerald Sinema (1929–) were brought up. Her grandfather relocated to Phoenix, where her father, Dan Sinema, was born in 1949.
Sinema has two siblings, an older brother and younger sister. Her father was an attorney. Her parents divorced when she was a child and her mother, who had custody of the children, remarried. With her siblings, mother, and stepfather, Sinema moved to DeFuniak Springs, Florida, a small town in the Panhandle. When her stepfather lost his job and the bank foreclosed on their home, the family lived for three years in an abandoned gas station. Sinema has said that for two years they had no toilet or electricity while living there. She later recalled, "My stepdad built a bunk bed for me and my sister. We separated our bunk bed from the kitchen with one of those big chalkboards on rollers. I knew that was weird. A chalkboard shouldn't be a wall. A kitchen should have running water." Sinema was raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to journalist Jonathan Martin in The New York Times, Sinema has given "contradictory answers about her early life", and Sinema's mother and stepfather had filed court documents saying they had made monthly payments for gas, electricity, and phone bills, even though Sinema had said they had been "without running water or electricity". Asked whether she had embellished details from her childhood, Sinema said, "I've shared what I remember from my childhood. I know what I lived through."
Sinema graduated as valedictorian from Walton High School in DeFuniak Springs at age 16 and went on to earn her B.A. from Brigham Young University (BYU) in 1995 at age 18. She left The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after graduating from BYU. Sinema returned to Arizona in 1995.
Sinema worked as a social worker from 1995 to 2002 in the Phoenix metropolitan area's Washington Elementary School District and received a Master of Social Work degree from Arizona State University in 1999. In 2004 she earned a J.D. degree from Arizona State University College of Law and started working as a criminal defense lawyer. In 2008, Sinema completed the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government program for senior executives in state and local government as a David Bohnett LGBTQ Victory Institute Leadership Fellow. In 2012, she earned a Ph.D. in justice studies, also from Arizona State.
In 2003, Sinema became an adjunct professor teaching master's-level policy and grant-writing classes at Arizona State University School of Social Work and an adjunct business law professor at Arizona Summit Law School, formerly known as Phoenix School of Law.
In 2000, Sinema worked on Ralph Nader's presidential campaign. In 2001 and 2002, she ran for local elected offices as an independent and lost. In 2002, The Arizona Republic published a letter from Sinema criticizing capitalism. "Until the average American realizes that capitalism damages her livelihood while augmenting the livelihoods of the wealthy, the Almighty Dollar will continue to rule", she wrote. She opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization during this time. In 2003, she protested Senator Joe Lieberman's unsuccessful 2004 presidential bid, telling the Hartford Courant, "He’s a shame to Democrats. I don’t even know why he’s running. He seems to want to get Republicans voting for him – what kind of strategy is that?"
While in the Green Party, Sinema was its local spokesperson, working to repeal the death penalty and organizing antiwar protests. She had organized 15 antiwar rallies by the time the Iraq War began. She also opposed the war in Afghanistan. During a February 15, 2003, protest in Patriots Square Park in Phoenix, a group led by Sinema distributed flyers portraying a U.S. servicemember as a skeleton "inflicting 'U.S. terror' in Iraq and the Middle East". In a 2003 opinion piece, Sinema declared that Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush were "the real Saddam and Osama lovers". When asked on a local radio show whether she would oppose someone joining the Taliban and fighting on its behalf, Sinema responded, "Fine ... I don't care if you want to do that, go ahead." During 2005 and 2006, Sinema co-hosted a radio show with 9/11 truther Jeff Farias.
Arizona State Legislature
Sinema first ran for the Arizona House of Representatives in 2002, as an independent affiliated with the Arizona Green Party. She finished in last place in a five-candidate field, receiving 8 percent of the vote.
Sinema joined the Democratic Party in 2004. That year, Sinema and David Lujan won the two seats for Arizona's 15th district, with 37 percent of the vote for Sinema and 34 percent for Lujan over incumbent representative Wally Straughn. Sinema was subsequently reelected three times with over 30 percent of the vote. In 2009 and 2010 Sinema was an assistant Minority Leader for the Democratic Caucus of the Arizona House of Representatives.
According to Elle, "her first public comment as an elected official came in 2005, after a Republican colleague's speech insulted LGBT people. 'We're simply people like everyone else who want and deserve respect', she passionately declared. Later, when reporters asked about her use of the first person, Sinema replied, 'Duh, I'm bisexual.'"
In 2006, Sinema told a radio host that she was "the most liberal member of the Arizona State Legislature". Also in 2006 she sponsored a bill urging the adoption of the DREAM Act and co-chaired Arizona Together, the statewide campaign that defeated Proposition 107, which would have banned the recognition of same-sex marriage and civil unions in Arizona. (In 2008 a similar referendum, Proposition 102, passed.) In 2006 Sinema was asked about "new feminism", and responded, "These women who act like staying at home, leeching off their husbands or boyfriends, and just cashing the checks is some sort of feminism because they're choosing to live that life. That's bullshit. I mean, what the fuck are we really talking about here?" After facing criticism, Sinema apologized and said the interview format was intended to be a "lighthearted spoof". "I was raised by a stay-at-home mom," she said. "So, she did a pretty good job with me."
Sinema campaigned against Proposition 107, a referendum to ban the recognition of same-sex marriage and civil unions in Arizona. In 2008, she led the campaign against Proposition 102, another referendum that would have banned the recognition of same-sex marriage in Arizona. Proposition 102 was approved with 56% of the vote in the general election on November 4, 2008. Sinema chaired a coalition called Protect Arizona's Freedom, which defeated Ward Connerly's goal to place an initiative on the state ballot that would eliminate equal-opportunity programs.
In June 2009, Sinema was one of 32 state legislators appointed by President Barack Obama to the White House Health Reform Task Force, which helped shape the Affordable Care Act. "Thanks in part to her hard work in improving the bill", she was invited to attend the Obamacare bill signing at the White House in March 2010.
In 2010, Sinema sponsored a bill to give in-state tuition to veterans; it was held in committee and did not receive a vote. Also in 2010, Sinema was named one of Time magazine's "40 Under 40". The Center for Inquiry gave Sinema its Award for the Advancement of Science and Reason in Public Policy in 2011.
U.S. House of Representatives
In June 2011, Sinema said she was considering running for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012. She lived in the same Phoenix neighborhood as incumbent Democratic congressman Ed Pastor, but was adamant that she would not challenge another Democrat in a primary. On January 3, 2012, Sinema announced her bid for Congress, in the 9th congressional district. The district had previously been the 5th, represented by freshman Republican David Schweikert; it contained 60 percent of the old 5th's territory. Schweikert had been drawn into the 6th district—the old 3rd district—and sought reelection there.
Although Sinema was not required to resign her State Senate seat under Arizona's resign-to-run laws (since she was in the final year of her term), she did so on the same day that she announced her candidacy. On August 28, 2012, Sinema won the three-way Democratic primary with nearly 42 percent of the vote. Her opponents, state Senator David Schapira and former Arizona Democratic Party chairman Andrei Cherny, a former speechwriter in the Clinton administration, each finished with less than 30 percent of the vote.
In the general election, Sinema ran against Republican nominee Vernon Parker, the former mayor of Paradise Valley. She was endorsed by The Arizona Republic. The campaign was described as a "nasty", "bitterly fought race that featured millions of dollars in attack ads". Parker ran campaign ads that accused Sinema of being an "anti-American hippie" who practiced "Pagan rituals". The Republican-aligned outside group American Future Fund spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on attack ads against Sinema. When her religious views were raised as an issue, her campaign said that she simply believes in a secular approach to government.
The November 6 election was initially too close to call, because Arizona election authorities failed to count more than 25 percent of the votes on election day. Sinema held a narrow lead over Parker, while provisional and absentee ballots were still being counted. On November 12, when it was apparent that Sinema's lead was too large for Parker to overcome, the Associated Press called the race for Sinema. Once all ballots were counted, Sinema won by 4 percentage points, over 10,000 votes. Libertarian Powell Gammill finished third with 7 percent of the votes. When she took office on January 3, 2013, she became only the second Anglo Democrat to represent the Valley of the Sun in over three decades. The first was Harry Mitchell, who represented the then-5th district from 2007 to 2011.
According to Roll Call, Sinema considered herself bipartisan. This was seen as a response to her district's voting pattern. It was drawn as a "fair-fight" district, and President Barack Obama won the district by four points in 2012. In September 2014 she was endorsed for reelection by the United States Chamber of Commerce, becoming one of five Democrats to be endorsed by the Chamber in the 2014 congressional election cycle. She was reelected with approximately 55 percent of the vote, beating Rogers by 13 points.
Unopposed in her primary, Sinema won the general election with 61 percent of the vote. Her opponent, Republican nominee Dave Giles, received 39 percent.
Following her election to Congress, Sinema shifted toward the political center, joining the conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition and the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and amassing a "reliably moderate-Democratic" voting record. Sinema worked for the adoption of the DREAM Act, even hiring DREAM Act advocate Erika Andiola as a district outreach staffer.
In 2017, Americans for Financial Reform, a progressive nonprofit, found Sinema had voted for 12 of the 19 bills it felt "served the interests or wishes of Wall Street and the financial industry at the expense of the public interest" that year.
In October 2021, five of the veterans Sinema had selected for her advisory council as liaisons to the Arizona service member community resigned. Their resignation letter accused her of "answering to big donors rather than your own people" and criticized her opposition to key Democratic party issues such as abolishing the filibuster and aspects of Biden's Build Back Better Plan.
- Committee on Financial Services
- New Democrat Coalition
- Congressional Arts Caucus
- Veterinary Medicine Caucus
- Blue Dog Coalition
- Problem Solvers Caucus
In March 2018 Sinema donated to charity $33,800 in campaign contributions she had received from Ed Buck, a prominent Democratic donor who came under scrutiny after a homeless escort died of a drug overdose at his California home in 2017. She had previously donated to charity $53,400 in campaign contributions from people with ties to Backpage, a website that was seized by the United States Department of Justice after it was accused of knowingly accepting ads for sex with underage girls.
During the 2018 campaign Sinema refused to debate her competitor in the Democratic primary, Deedra Abboud, an attorney and community activist. Sinema won the August Democratic primary for the Senate seat. Her Republican opponent in the general election was fellow Arizona U.S. Representative and eventual Senate colleague Martha McSally. Sinema received the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign.
While Abboud said she would vote against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Sinema "said she wanted to delve deeper into Kavanaugh's writings and interview him personally before deciding". She said she was "running on the issues people care about most, including offering quality, affordable health care and promoting economic opportunity". In summer 2018 Sinema said she would vote against Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for Minority Leader if elected to the U.S. Senate. "The Democratic leadership has failed Democrats across the country," she said. "I am unafraid to say what I believe about what I think our party needs to do and I think our party needs to grow and change."
Journalist Jonathan Martin wrote in The New York Times in September 2018 that Sinema was running "one of the most moderate-sounding and cautious Senate campaigns this year, keeping the media at arms-length and avoiding controversial issues", and said her campaign was generally reluctant to bring up President Donald Trump. According to Martin, both Republicans and Democrats said that Sinema had "few major legislative accomplishments to her record" and was running "on a political image that she has shaped and reshaped over the years. And nothing is more central to it now than her childhood homelessness."
On November 12, many news sources called the U.S. Senate race for Sinema, and the Republican nominee, Martha McSally, conceded. Sinema was sworn in with the 116th United States Congress on January 3, 2019.
Sinema is the first woman to represent Arizona in the United States Senate. She is also the first Democrat elected to represent Arizona in the chamber since Dennis DeConcini, who held her current seat from 1977 to 1995.
Sinema was sworn in as a member of the U.S. Senate on January 3, 2019. During the oath of office ceremony, led by Vice President Mike Pence, she decided to be sworn in not on the traditional Bible, but on copies of the United States Constitution and the Constitution of Arizona. She is the senior U.S. senator from Arizona; the junior U.S. senator for Arizona is Democrat Mark Kelly. Kelly defeated Sinema's 2018 general election opponent, Martha McSally, who was appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated upon the resignation of Senator Jon Kyl, who was appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated upon the death of Senator John McCain.
Sinema urged Senate colleagues to vote in favor of the proposed January 6 commission to further investigate the storming of the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. In a joint statement with Senator Joe Manchin, she said, "we implore our Senate Republican colleagues to work with us to find a path forward on a commission to examine the events of January 6th." But she was one of two Senate Democrats who did not vote on it, the other being Senator Patty Murray of Washington. Murray and Sinema both cited a "personal family matter" for their absence.
- Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
- Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
- Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
- Committee on Veterans' Affairs
- Special Committee on Aging
Sinema has been described as a moderate to conservative Democrat, being generally socially liberal but fiscally moderate-to-conservative. According to National Journal's 2013 Vote Ratings, her votes place her near the center of their liberal-conservative scale. The National Journal gave her a composite ideology score of 57% liberal and 43% conservative. According to the Bipartisan Index created by the Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy, Sinema was the sixth most bipartisan member of the U.S. House of Representatives during the first session of the 115th United States Congress. She has cited U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, as a role model. She was one of the most conservative House Democrats during her tenure.
In 2015 and 2016, Sinema did not vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House. In 2015, she voted with the majority of her party 73% of the time. The conservative group Americans for Prosperity gives Sinema a lifetime 27% rating and the conservative Goldwater Institute gave her a 35% in 2010 when she was a state legislator; the progressive Americans for Democratic Action gave her a 60% liberal quotient. In 2017, she voted in line with President Donald Trump's position approximately half the time. According to FiveThirtyEight, as of January 2021, Sinema voted in line with Trump's position on legislation about 50% of the time. As a result, the Arizona Democratic Party suggested censuring her. But after delaying the vote and watering down the resolution from a censure to an advisement, it was ultimately tabled. According to FiveThirtyEight, as of October 2021, Sinema has voted with President Biden's position on legislative issues 100% of the time.
Sinema supports abortion rights. Asked about Roe v. Wade, she indicated that the ruling should not be overturned and that she supports a woman's right to choose an abortion. She has been endorsed by EMILY's List and, as of 2020, has a lifetime 100% rating from Planned Parenthood, which is pro-abortion, and a 0% rating from the anti-abortion organization Campaign for Working Families.
While working as a spokesperson for the Arizona Green Party, Sinema worked to repeal the death penalty. In her 2009 book, Unite and Conquer, she explained her stance on capital punishment, writing that she opposed it "because I think no civilized society should use it as a punishment", though "since we have the death penalty in Arizona, I want to ensure that it's being implemented as fairly and judiciously as possible".
According to The Arizona Republic, while serving in the Arizona State Legislature, she introduced more bills regarding the death penalty than bills regarding military or veterans' families. In 2007, she introduced HB 2278, which would require the Arizona Supreme Court to "strike" any prior death sentence and "enter in its place a sentence of natural life", as in life without parole.
Sinema has served as an Advisory Board Member of the Arizona Death Penalty Forum. She was also a presenter at their 2010 Spring Conference, which was co-sponsored by Amnesty International and the ACLU of Arizona.
In 2013, Sinema co-sponsored Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney's letter, which opposed Saudi Arabia for "the use of torture and capital punishment against the LGBTQ community".
In 2017, however, Sinema and 47 other House Democrats voted with the majority of House Republicans on H.R. 115, "Thin Blue Line Act of 2017", which was opposed by the ACLU. The bill would "expand the list of statutory aggravating factors in death penalty determinations" to include the killing or targeting of a law enforcement officer, first responder, or firefighter.
On February 5, 2019, Sinema voted for a bill that would make improvements to certain defense and security assistance provisions, authorize the appropriation of funds to Israel, and reauthorize the United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015. On March 13, 2019, she voted to remove the United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.
Economics and taxes
In 2015, Sinema was one of just seven House Democrats to vote in favor of a Republican-backed bill to repeal the estate tax, which affects about 0.2% of Americans in the U.S. each year (estates of $5.43 million or more for individuals, or $10.86 million or more for couples). That same year, she voted to change the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's leadership from a single director to a bipartisan commission.
In 2016, with Republican congressman John Katko of New York, Sinema cosponsored the Working Parents Flexibility Act (H.R. 4699). This legislation would establish a tax-free "parental savings account" in which employers and parents could invest savings tax-free, with unused funds eligible to be "rolled into qualifying retirement, college savings or ABLE accounts for people with disabilities without tax penalties". In September 2018, she voted "to make individual tax cuts passed by the GOP [in 2017] permanent". She was one of three Democrats to break with her party and vote for the tax cuts being made permanent.
On July 30, 2019, Sinema and Senator Bill Cassidy released a proposal under which new parents would be authorized to advance their child tax credit benefits in order to receive a $5,000 cash benefit upon either birth or adoption of a child. The parents' child tax credit would then be reduced by $500 for each year of the following decade.
On February 12, 2021, Sinema became the second Democratic senator after Joe Manchin to announce her opposition to including a $15/hour minimum wage as part of a COVID relief bill. On March 5, 2021, Sinema voted against an increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders as part of the COVID-19 American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. She did so by flashing a thumbs-down as she carried a Lululemon bag containing a cake for Senate staffers. Some commentators compared her demeanor to that of former Arizona senator John McCain, who had voted with a dramatic thumbs-down gesture in 2017; others compared her to former French monarch Marie Antoinette, to whom the phrase "let them eat cake" is attributed. Sinema's office responded that commentary on her clothes and demeanor was sexist. Her vote was at odds with that of fellow Democrat Mark Kelly, the junior Arizona senator, who supports a $15/hour minimum wage.
In February 2019, Sinema was one of 20 senators to sponsor the Employer Participation in Repayment Act, enabling employers to contribute up to $5,250 to their employees' student loans.
In 2019, Sinema was one of four Democratic-caucusing senators to join all Republicans in voting against the Green New Deal, a stimulus program that aims to address climate change and economic inequality, while most other Democrats voted "present." In April 2019, Sinema was one of three Democrats who voted with Republicans to confirm David Bernhardt, a former oil executive, as Secretary of the Interior Department.
On February 12, 2019, Sinema voted along with the whole Senate for the Natural Resources Management Act, which provides for the management of the natural resources of the United States. On March 26, along with two Democrats and an independent from Maine, she voted against the Green New Deal.
Sinema supports the use of military force to stop genocide, such as in Sudan, Somalia and Rwanda. She wrote a doctoral dissertation on the 1994 Rwandan genocide that Lexington Books published in 2015.
Sinema was opposed to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and helped organize anti-war protests while a law student at Arizona State University. Sinema was involved in organizing a Phoenix-area group called the Arizona Alliance for Peaceful Justice (AAPJ). According to Josh Lederman of The Hill, "The group's mission statement at the time called military action 'an inappropriate response to terrorism' and advocated for using the legal system—not violence—to bring Osama bin Laden and others to justice."
As an antiwar activist in the years after 9/11, Sinema "led a group that distributed flyers depicting an American soldier as a skeleton inflicting 'U.S. terror' in Iraq and the Middle East." The flyers "promoted a February 2003 rally organized by Local to Global Justice, an anti-war group Sinema co-founded". Sinema was described in news reports as an organizer and sponsor of the rally and was listed as the point of contact for the event. One flyer referred to "Bush and his fascist, imperialist war", saying, "Government is slavery", and describing laws as "cobwebs for the rich and chains of steel for the poor". CNN said that such positions were "a contrast from the more moderate profile she has developed since her 2012 election to Congress".
In 2005 and 2006, she co-hosted an Air America radio show with 9/11 truther Jeff Farias. In 2006, Sinema said she opposed "war in all its forms", and wrote: "As one of the core organizers against the war from day one (September 12, 2001), I have always and will always continue to oppose war in all its forms."
After joining Congress in 2012, she said her views on military force had "evolved", and that "you should never take military intervention off the table. When you do so, you give an out to a rogue nation or rogue actors." Lederman reported that "she said she favors aggressive diplomacy, crippling sanctions to combat proliferation, and swift, multilateral intervention as a last resort". Since joining Congress, she has voted against the Iran Nuclear Deal and supported Trump's missile attack on Syria.
Sinema favors gun control measures such as requiring background checks on gun sales between private citizens at gun shows, and requiring a license for gun possession. In 2016 the National Rifle Association (NRA), which opposes gun regulations, gave Sinema a 29% rating. In 2018, the NRA gave Sinema a 33% score and the Gun Owners of America gave her a 17% rating.
Sinema voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act, but has called for reforms to the law. In a 2012 congressional campaign debate, she said the health care law wasn't perfect, and that in Congress she would work to amend it to make it work effectively. Sinema voted to delay the imposition of fines on those who did not purchase insurance in 2014. She also voted to repeal the Medical Device Tax and for the Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013.
Speaking about healthcare policy, Sinema said, "I used to say that I wanted universal health-care coverage in Arizona, which went over like a ton of bricks. Turns out, Arizonans hear the word 'universal' and think 'socialism'—or 'pinko commie'. But when I say that I want all Arizonans to have access to affordable, quality health care, Arizonans agree wholeheartedly. Same basic idea, different language."
In 2021, Sinema opposed prescription drug pricing reform proposals in House and Senate versions of a Democrat-crafted spending bill. On October 8, 2021, Jacobin reported:
Early last month, a corporate front group called Center Forward purchased $600,000 worth of television and radio ads promoting Sinema in Arizona. The ads touted her "independence" and characterized her as "a bipartisan leader" in the mold of the late senator John McCain. As we reported, Center Forward has been heavily bankrolled by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the powerful Washington drug lobby. Two Center Forward board members lobby for PhRMA, as well as drugmakers Amgen, Bayer, Gilead Sciences, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis, and Sanofi. A few days after the ad campaign started, Sinema informed the White House she opposed the party’s drug pricing plan.
Sinema and Senator Joe Manchin met with President Biden the same day to discuss their concerns with the bills. Observers have noted that Sinema is one of the largest benefactors of pharmaceutical political action committee money in Congress, and has been described as a "Pharma Favorite". KHN reported:
For the 2019-20 election cycle through March, political action committees run by employees of drug companies and their trade groups gave her $98,500 in campaign funds, Kaiser Health News’ Pharma Cash to Congress database shows. That stands out in a Congress in which a third of the members got no pharma cash for the period and half of those who did got $10,000 or less.
Sinema's haul was "twice that of Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, considered one of the most vulnerable Republicans in November, and approached that of fellow Democrat Steny Hoyer, the powerful House majority leader from Maryland." Senator Bernie Sanders indirectly called her out, saying:
Take a hard look at those people who are opposed to strong legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs, and take a look at their campaign-finance reports. See where they get their money, how many of them get their money from the pharmaceutical industry, and the executives there. And I think there will be a direct correlation.
On October 18, 2021, Politico reported:
Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia raked in cash last quarter from a bevy of corporations, executives and lobbyists working to pare back the Democratic reconciliation package that Sinema and Manchin have also been vocal opponents of, according to their latest campaign finance filings.... Sinema, who has emerged as the leading Democratic opponent in the Senate to her party’s drug pricing proposal, received more than $27,000 from PACs of pharmaceutical companies, including Astellas, Sunovion, Takeda, Horizon, Eli Lilly, Abbvie, Alexion and Lundbeck during that time—which POLITICO’s Hailey Fuchs reports is up from $5,000 in the three months prior....Sinema also hauled in money from top pharma leaders like Gilead Chief Executive Daniel O’Day, who gave $5,000. Eli Lilly Chief Executive David Ricks, Merck board Chair Kenneth Frazier and Bristol Myers Squibb Chair and Chief Executive Giovanni Caforio all maxed out to Sinema, while Genentech Chief Executive Alexander Hardy gave $2,500. A pair of in-house lobbyists for PhRMA, Jennifer Bryant and Anne Esposito, and Debra DeShong, the drug lobby’s executive vice president for public affairs, all gave $1,000....Sinema also received donations from the tobacco industry, which has set its sights on tobacco and nicotine taxes that House Democrats proposed to help pay for the bill. The PAC for the National Association of Truckstop Operators, a group whose membership includes tobacco companies and which has fought the proposed taxes, gave Sinema $5,000 and Manchin $2,500. James Haslam, the chief executive of truckstop chain Pilot Flying J and secretary of the Truckstop Operators, gave $2,900 to both Manchin and Sinema, despite typically contributing heavily to Republicans. John Hoel, an in-house lobbyist for tobacco giant Altria, gave Sinema $500, while The Cigar Association of America’s PAC donated $1,000.
According to a profile in The Advocate, "Sinema has her sights set on advancing LGBT rights." She has a history of policy advocacy regarding LGBT rights and issues. In 2006, Sinema was among the leading opponents of a proposed amendment to the Arizona state constitution which would have banned same-sex marriages and civil unions. The proposal failed in Arizona, the first time that a state rejected a ban on same-sex marriage, but a second proposed amendment banning only same-sex marriage passed in 2008 with Sinema in opposition again. She supports same-sex marriage, domestic partnership recognition, and adding gender identity to anti-discrimination laws.
Sinema co-sponsored the Southwest Border Security Threat Assessment Act (H.R. 4482), a bill that calls for border threat analysis of terrorism, smuggling, and human trafficking every five years.
Sinema was one of 24 House Democrats to vote in favor of Kate's Law, a bill that would expand maximum sentences for foreigners who attempt to reenter the country, legally or illegally, after having been deported, denied entry or removed, and for foreign felons who attempt to reenter the country.
Sinema voted for the SAFE Act, which expanded the refugee screening process to require signatures from the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Director of National Intelligence for each refugee entering the country.
Sinema opposed Arizona SB 1070. She has argued that mass deportation of undocumented immigrants is not an option and supported the DREAM Act. Her 2012 campaign website stated that "we need to create a tough but fair path to citizenship for undocumented workers that requires them to get right with the law by paying back taxes, paying a fine and learning English as a condition of gaining citizenship." In July 2018, she broke with her party by voting with Republicans against abolishing ICE.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform, a PAC that seeks to limit both legal and illegal immigration, gave Sinema a 33% rating in 2018, and UnidosUS, which supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, gave Sinema a score of 88% in 2014.
On March 14, 2019, Sinema voted against Trump's National Emergency declaration on border security.
On February 4, 2021, Sinema voted against providing COVID-19 pandemic financial support to undocumented immigrants.
In June 2013, Sinema became one of 29 original cosponsors of the bipartisan LIBERT-E (Limiting Internet and Blanket Electronic Review of Telecommunications and Email) Act, along with Representative Justin Amash. The legislation would limit the National Security Agency (NSA) to only collecting electronic information from subjects of an investigation.
In July 2013, Sinema joined a bipartisan majority and voted against an amendment to a defense appropriations bill (offered by Amash) to prohibit the NSA from monitoring and recording details of U.S. citizens' telecommunications without a warrant.
Earlier in her career, Sinema expressed enthusiasm about evading the Senate filibuster through the reconciliation process, saying that Republicans at times "never had 60 votes and they managed to do a lot of bad things done during that time" and "the reconciliation process is still quite available and we will use it for good rather than for evil". She also implied that conservative Democrat Joe Lieberman was barely a Democrat, as his vote according to her could not be counted on for Democratic health policy, saying, "some might argue we never had 60, because one of those votes was Joseph Lieberman, but that's whatever—yeah, and Nelson too, but really Lieberman". She concluded, "So now there's none of this false pressure to get to 60... the Democrats can stop kowtowing to Joe Lieberman and instead seek other avenues".
On January 25, 2021, a spokesperson for Sinema told The Washington Post that she is "against eliminating the filibuster" and "not open to changing her mind about eliminating the filibuster".
In 2016, Sinema was one of five House Democrats to vote for a Republican-backed bill barring the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from regulating broadband rates. Her vote broke from her party; other Democrats were strongly opposed to the measure, and President Obama said he would veto it if it passed.
In 2019, Sinema was the sole Senate Democrat not to co-sponsor the Save the Internet Act, which would restore Obama-era regulations preventing ISPs from throttling consumers' website traffic. She worked with Senate Republican Roger Wicker to develop their own net neutrality bill.
Donald Trump impeachments
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sinema was noted for her use of colorful wigs. Her spokeswoman explained that Sinema wore them to emphasize the importance of social distancing: by wearing wigs, she did not need to go to a hair salon.
Sinema has completed numerous marathons. In 2019, she completed a marathon in 3:28:17, which was fast enough for her age group to qualify for the Boston marathon. Two weeks before her Boston-qualifying race, she ran a three-mile race in 20:42, setting a record for women in Congress. In 2021, she broke her right foot while running a marathon, requiring her to use a hands-free crutch.
On November 17, 2013, Sinema completed an Ironman Triathlon in a little over 15 hours. She was the second active member of Congress, after Senator Jeff Merkley, to finish a long-distance triathlon, and the first to complete an Ironman-branded race.
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- List of LGBT firsts by year (2010s)
- List of LGBT members of the United States Congress
- Women in the United States House of Representatives
- Women in the United States Senate
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kyrsten Sinema.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Kyrsten Sinema|
- U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema official U.S. Senate website
- Kyrsten Sinema for U.S. Senate
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Kyrsten Sinema official Arizona Senate website (archived)