- Bernie Sanders declined to join in condemning protestors who confronted Kyrsten Sinema in a bathroom, Axios reported.
- He wanted to include criticism of Sinema's political position in the statement, the report said.
- Tensions between Democrats are mounting over President Biden's stalled spending bills.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
Bernie Sanders refused to sign a statement condemning protestors who followed Kyrsten Sinema into a bathroom, a report from Axios said.
Sanders were close to signing, the report said, but backed out when other senators refused to amend the statement to criticize Sinema's political position.
The development comes amid escalating tensions between the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic caucus.
Video posted on Twitter Sunday by an activist group showed protestors confronting Sinema, a Democratic senator from Arizona, on the campus of Arizona State University, where she teaches.
The protesters objected to Sinema's opposition to President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion spending bill.
The bill has led to a flare up between Democratic moderates, who want it scaled back or oppose it, and progressives, who want it passed in its current form.
Axios reported Wednesday that Senate Democratic aides were close to getting Sanders to sign a statement condemning the protesters.
The document called their actions "plainly inappropriate and unacceptable." But, per the report, Sanders refused to join.
According to Axios, the sticking point was that the the statement would not include a condemnation of Sinema's political views by adding the text "While we hope Senator Sinema will change her position on prescription drug reform and support a major [budget] reconciliation bill...."
The proposed edit was ruled out by Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who organized the statement.
Insider has contacted Sanders' office for comment on the report.
The development illustrates the tense stand-off between moderates and progressives in Congress that is imperiling Biden's domestic agenda.
Biden himself offered only partial condemnation of the protestors in remarks Monday. He said that, while the tactics were not appropriate, "it happens to everybody" not assigned Secret Service protection.
Owing to the extremely narrow majority that Democrats have in the Senate, they need all of their 50 senators to vote in favour of the reconciliation bill in order to pass it.
But Sinema and fellow moderate Sen. Joe Manchin are balking at its scope.
At the same time, progressives in the House of Representatives are refusing to approve Biden's $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, that was passed by the Senate in August, until the reconciliation bill is passed.
They believe that if they let the smaller bill pass, then the larger one will be watered down or even abandoned, so are reluctant to give up their leverage from blocking the $1.2 trillion package.