Back to start. By leaving the Democratic Party on Friday, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema weakens Joe Biden at the parliamentary level with a majority that goes back to 50 seats out of 100. If she begins the political credit of the US President, who had a smile after Better than expected, Sinema’s decision should not fundamentally change the situation, with Congress divided between a Republican majority in the House and a Democrat in the Senate.
“I declare myself independent of the flawed partisan system in Washington,” the 46-year-old elected official announced in a video. Until the resounding announcement of this free spirit, the White House was clearly enjoying the results, indeed much better than expected, of the Democrats in the very recent midterm elections. Wasn’t the US president the only one since the famous Franklin Delano Roosevelt to win a Senate seat and governorships during this traditionally penalized election for the executive party?
Voting on a case-by-case basis
The White House was quick to temper the senator’s announcement. “We have every reason to believe that we will continue to work” with Kyrsten Sinema, Joe Biden spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “Kyrsten is independent, she always has been,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, who also tried to downplay her announcement.
The largest interested party was careful not to say whether in the future she would align herself with the Democrats in the vote on the legislative texts. From 51 seats out of 100 in the Senate, the Democratic camp fell to 50, its level before the “middle ways”.
Knowing, however, that the Republicans have 49. Kyrsten Sinema’s decision was also applauded in the conservative ranks, who now hope to count on his vote on the most controversial texts: “I hope that many others will be ‘to inspire’,” they launched elected representative Lauren Boebert.
On a strictly parliamentary level, the decision by Arizona Senator Joe Biden is showering the hopes of governing with more elbow room for the rest of his term. But that doesn’t radically change the situation either.
The other chamber of Congress, the House of Representatives, swung to the Republican side after the midterm elections, which already put Joe Biden in a precarious position. And anyway, during the first two years of Biden’s tenure, Kyrsten Sinema had displayed a fierce political independence that was often seen in conversation with her Republican colleagues in the semicircle.
During Joe Biden’s first two years in office, she regularly forced the White House into difficult negotiations with her. For example, about this major electoral reform, which the Democrat wanted for 80 years to protect the minority vote, and which the senator had torpedoed at the beginning of the year.
Politically, his defection undoubtedly damages the honor of Joe Biden, at a time when he maintains the tension around a new presidential candidacy in 2024. It is not for lack of the president to have made promises to Kyrsten Sinema, with whom he had many conversations and with whom he a year ago had invited to speak on the lawns of the White House to celebrate the passage of a gigantic infrastructure program.
Again on Tuesday, while visiting a future factory in Arizona, Joe Biden had praised the senator, a “tremendous defender of the people of Arizona and a leader on many key issues for this state”. However, Kyrsten Sinema’s decision to leave Joe Biden’s party is a risky proposition: her term as a senator expires in 2024, and the Democrats will be tempted to present another candidate against her.