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Sen. Kyrsten Sinema says she's negotiating 'in good faith' with President Biden, top Democrats

Kyrsten Sinema
Kyrsten Sinema in 2018.

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said it should come as “no surprise” that she hasn’t been transparent with the public about where she stands on President Biden’s economic agenda.

On KTAR’s Gaydos and Chad, the Arizona Democrat said she was unfazed by mounting pressure from progressives, from the halls of Congress to her home state, who want her to support the president’s Build Back Better plan.

“A lot of people choose to negotiate to the press or through the media and lob attacks at each other. And as you guys know, I don't do any of that,” Sinema said. “I don't think that it is helpful. I don't think that it is in good faith.”

Sinema said those deeply involved in behind the scenes negotiations over a once-$3.5 trillion spending plan know exactly where she stands.

“(Biden) knows I'm a fiscal conservative, and I told President Biden and (Senate Majority Leader Chuck) Schumer that I will protect Arizona jobs from federal policies that would negatively impact our economic competitiveness,” Sinema.

That comment follows Biden’s statements from a CNN town hall on Thursday night, when he said Sinema “will not raise a single penny on taxes for the corporate side or on wealthy people.”

White House officials later clarified the comment was about Sinema’s opposition to raising corporate tax rates — by undoing Trump-era tax cuts that the Arizona Democrat once opposed — but that Sinema supports “other tax fairness proposals.”

NPR reported that those tax changes would meet Biden’s goal of fully paying for his spending plan, now estimated to cost roughly $2 trillion.

Sinema addresses Arizona State University protest

The senator also spoke publicly for the first time about a confrontation inside an Arizona State University restroom with activists from Living United for Change in Arizona.

Sinema said she was “disappointed” for her students — the protest occurred outside a classroom while she was teaching at ASU. At one point, members of LUCHA followed Sinema into a restroom as they filmed the senator continually ignoring their questions and concerns.

On KTAR, Sinema expressed disbelief as to why protestors would go so far as to follow her into a restroom.

“They're upset about immigration, which is an area in which we agree, we agree on the substance,” she said. “So I wasn't quite sure what they were doing or why they were motivated to do this.”

LUCHA has encouraged Sinema to support the full Biden agenda, as well as federal immigration reform.

The Senate has failed to adopt meaningful immigration reforms and will likely remain unable to as long as Republicans have the filibuster. Sinema has made clear she does not support getting rid of the filibuster, which would allow Democrats to pass legislation with a simple majority in the U.S. Senate.

Alejandra Gomez, co-executive director of LUCHA, said in a statement Friday the organization is disappointed that the President’s plans are being obstructed “not by Republicans, but by the very Democrat we worked so hard to elect.”

“Adding insult to injury, Senator Sinema is not only ignoring her constituents when asked why she is blocking this bill, she won’t even tell her fellow senators what she wants out of negotiations,” Gomez said.

ASU police, after collaborating with Sinema’s office following the protests, has asked Maricopa County prosecutors to charge four protestors with misdemeanors.

Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.