A number of prominent Democrats have been openly touting their efforts to advance amnesty for many undocumented immigrants as part of a $3.5 trillion budget deal.
When U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) signaled her opposition to the proposal, however, it signaled the possible demise of a measure that would require a united Democratic Party to pass.
Sinema flexes political muscle
Many lawmakers in the party have embraced passing the immigration measure through reconciliation, which allows certain bills to pass with a simple majority vote.
The budget item would offer green cards to millions of undocumented immigrants, including farm laborers and those shielded by Temporary Protected Status and the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Proponents have attracted support from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, former President George W. Bush, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among others, all 50 Senate Democrats must be on board for it to pass through the narrowly divided chamber.
For her part, Sinema said that she supports “beginning” the reconciliation process but voiced objections to the $3.5 trillion price tag.
Along with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sinema is an especially pivotal member of the Senate at the moment. Her support of the Senate filibuster has made her a target of some fellow progressives and many in her party are upset over her latest refusal to cooperate.
“Tanking your own party’s investment”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) snapped at the Arizona senator in a statement this week.
“Good luck tanking your own party’s investment on childcare, climate action, and infrastructure while presuming you’ll survive a 3 vote House margin,” she wrote, according to the Arizona Republic.
Sinema has also been critical of the Biden administration’s border policy, which is impacting her state more than many others. Recent reports affirmed that, in addition to a spike in illegal immigration, many migrants are being released from custody without even receiving a court date.
She appears to recognize that the nation does not need a fast-tracked amnesty plan amid the ongoing border crisis. Manchin, on the other hand, supports the deal.
Despite disagreements from Sinema and a handful of other Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says he has the votes needed to pass a budget blueprint before the upcoming August recess.