- Rep. Porter criticized Kyrsten Sinema's approach to the infrastructure negotiation process on CNN.
- Porter said Sinema has not pointed out specific issues with the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.
- "This is not a time to be cute - this is a time to show character," Porter said of Sinema.
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Rep. Katie Porter of California last Wednesday blasted Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona for stalling infrastructure talks with President Joe Biden and congressional Democratic leaders, saying the lawmaker should stop being "cute" and offer her concerns with the legislation.
During an appearance on CNN's "Don Lemon Tonight," Porter, the deputy chair of the influential Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that Sinema has so far not been transparent about issues with the proposed $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that have prevented her from supporting the legislation.
While Porter called out Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the two moderate lawmakers that have prevented Democrats from passing a larger bill, she did give credit to Manchin for spelling out some of his grievances with the bill.
"I think what we're looking for is people to show character," she said. "I think Senator Manchin expressed concern about the climate provisions, for example, and from all reports is engaging in discussions about what he would support, what his concerns are."
While Sinema has so far not publicly disclosed a price tag that could attract her support for the bill, Manchin in recent weeks has stated that $1.5 trillion would be the most he'd be willing to spend, a significant departure from the $3.5 trillion package, which would provide hefty investments in healthcare, childcare, higher education, and climate initiatives.
Porter, who represents an Orange County-based district and has gained a huge following across country for her frequent usage of whiteboards and rapid-fire grilling of top-level executives, said that Sinema has declined to offer specifics that could aid in the negotiation process.
"All we heard from Senator Sinema today when she was asked, people want to know where you are, progressives in the House, progressives in the Senate, everybody in the House, everybody in the Senate wants to know where you are. Her answer is: 'I'm right here in front of the elevator.' I just want to repeat again, this is not a time to be cute - this is a time to show character."
She added: "If Senator Sinema has concerns about helping American families afford childcare, making two years at community college free, making health care more affordable, [and] doing something about climate change, then she needs to tell the American people, as well as her colleagues in the Senate and House."
For months, progressives and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California were committed to passing the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and the larger Democratic-led infrastructure package in tandem, while moderates long sought passage of the bipartisan bill untethered to the party's larger bill. The bipartisan bill easily passed the Senate in August.
However, progressives revolted last week when a vote for the bipartisan bill was scheduled by Pelosi and the status of the reconciliation package was still unclear. The speaker decided to hold off on the vote, but key House centrists on Friday blasted the move.
The senator on Saturday criticized the delay on the bipartisan infrastructure vote in the House as "inexcusable" and "deeply disappointing."
"Over the course of this year, Democratic leaders have made conflicting promises that could not all be kept - and have, at times, pretended that differences of opinion within our party did not exist, even when those disagreements were repeatedly made clear directly and publicly," she said in a statement.
"Canceling the infrastructure vote further erodes that trust. More importantly, it betrays the trust the American people have placed in their elected leaders and denies our country crucial investments to expand economic opportunities."