A Senate Democrat known for her bipartisan approach to legislating appears to have snubbed President Joe Biden.
Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema declined to travel on Air Force One with the president to her home state on Tuesday.
Biden visited Phoenix to tour a Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. computer chip plant, declining to visit the nation’s southern border.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday during a gaggle aboard Air Force One that the White House had invited Sinema to travel with the president on the trip, as is customary for a member of Congress from the same party.
“We always invite, as you know… when we go to a state, the president is always happy to give those congressional members in that state a ride on Air Force One to the state,” Jean-Pierre said in response to a question about whether the maverick senator had been invited.
“I can’t speak to Senator Sinema’s schedule,” the press secretary said.
Jean-Pierre says that the White House invited Sinema to fly on Air Force One to Arizona today with them but she isn't going hahaha. pic.twitter.com/rAYxMlKWw2
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) December 6, 2022
Sinema hadn’t commented publicly about Biden’s trip to her home state as of Tuesday afternoon.
Since entering the Senate in 2019, she has distanced herself from the Democratic Party with her refusal to toe its leadership’s partisan line.
The dissident Democrat blocked partisan plans to abolish the Senate’s filibuster, preventing Senate Democrats from ramming through legislation to the president’s desk with only 50 votes.
Sinema also declined to campaign for Democrats in the recent midterm elections and was the only Arizona Democrat to skip a pre-election rally with former President Barack Obama.
Progressive anger with Sinema has fueled a likely primary challenge, with Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego suggesting it’s likely he’ll try to take down the moderate senator in 2024.
– Gallego doesn't rule out '24 primary against Sinema
– Calls her position on filibuster naive
– Says she hasn't had townhall in 3 years
– Says she's "really disappointing" voters
– Says she has "looser principles" with Wall Street
– "The only consistency … is inconsistency" pic.twitter.com/TQOZqlv7Xh
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 14, 2022
Both Gallego and Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly were in attendance on Biden’s Tuesday Air Force One flight.
Just popping in to say hi! pic.twitter.com/43zx2YeQTi
— Ruben Gallego (@RubenGallego) December 6, 2022
Some have speculated that Sinema could change parties and become a Republican.
The bipartisan-minded senator has spoken of her friendship with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and earned the praise of GOP Sen. Mitt Romney.
A Sinema party switch — or a move to serve as an independent — could change the majority party in the upper chamber, should Republicans secure a 50th seat in Tuesday’s Georgia runoff election.