Kyrsten Sinema is the final Democrat within the deal on local weather change

As Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, took her turn to chair the Senate Tuesday, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III, a fellow Democrat, knelt next to her at the podium and leaned in intently to speak. to her in hushed tones.

Ms. Sinema, an elusive lawmaker who has shown a desire to destroy her own party, has replaced Mr. Manchin as her party’s most prominent and speculative leader. climate, energy and tax packageand the West Virginian sought her support.

As reporters watched from the gallery above, leaning in to try to hear the conversation, Ms. Sinema waved her hand in apparent recognition.

“She will make a decision based on the facts,” Mr. Manchin later told reporters, calling it “a good conversation.”

While Mr. Manchin has embraced the public scrutiny and attention that comes with a split Senate vote, Ms. Sinema has remained a narrow enigma. Passage of a major Democratic domestic policy initiative negotiated by Mr. Manchin and New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, now depends on her support.

For now, Ms. Sinema won’t say.

That leaves Democrats in a precarious position as they rush to move the package forward this week and try to rally all 50 members of their caucus behind it. Republicans are expected to unanimously oppose the plan, which includes hundreds of billions of dollars in energy and climate proposals, tax increases, extended health care subsidies and a plan to lower prescription drug prices, meaning Democrats cannot spare a single vote if all Republicans submit .

Party leaders will also have to maneuver the bill through a series of quick fixes that could pass if any Democrats join Republicans. As Mr. Manchin enthusiastically embarked on a media tour to celebrate the measure, fears of failure have now been fueled by Ms. Sinema’s characteristic silence.

A spokeswoman for Ms. Sinema said the senator had reviewed the legislation and was awaiting guidance from top Senate rules officials who analyzing whether it complies with the strict rules applied in the budget reconciliation process. Democrats used the reconciliation process to protect the legislation from error and speed it through Congress.

Top Democrats were quietly mulling Wednesday what possible changes to the bill, particularly its tax provisions, might be needed to win Mr. Sinema’s support as the Arizona senator prepares his wish list.

Although she voted in favor of the initial $3.5 trillion budget bill that allowed Democrats to begin drafting the legislation, Ms. Sinema did not offer clear support for many parts of the current package, particularly the many tax increases that were included behind it. Doubts about Ms. Sinema’s support stemmed from her previous opposition to the proposal, which seeks to cap preferential tax treatment of carried interest to the income earned by venture capitalists and private equity firms. A similar proposal was among the tax changes that Mr. Manchin and Mr. Schumer included in their deal.

Mr. Manchin and other Democrats said the provision would ensure fairness in the nation’s tax code. But Ms Sinema, who has opposed many of the tax rate hikes sought by her colleagues, has said privately that she wants to scrap the carried interest measure.

She is also looking to add funds for drought resilience, given that her state has struggled with a devastating water shortage, according to officials briefed on the discussions, who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose sensitive negotiations. Political first reported the request of Mrs. Sinema, whose state is at this time 27th consecutive year of droughtthe state climate service reports.

Ms. Sinema, like most of her colleagues, was blindsided by news of the deal between Mr. Manchin and Mr. Schumer and its details. Mr. Manchin has said he deliberately did not trust or consult with other Democrats final negotiations to save climate and tax proposals because, he told reporters on Monday: “I was never sure that we would get to the finals to get the bill filled.”

Speaking to a West Virginia radio station on Tuesday, Mr. Manchin noted that Ms. Sinema played an outsized role in shaping the prescription drug proposal and undermining Democratic ambitions to overhaul the tax code under the plan.

It was unclear whether Democrats would be willing to include a tax break for wealthy executives at all to win over Ms. Sinema. It is estimated to raise about $14 billion, a small fraction of the $740 billion plan.

“This may sound old-fashioned to some people in Washington, but in my experience, Senator Sinema has always believed in the need to be thoughtful and cautious when it comes to changing tax policy,” said John LaBombard, senior vice president for public affairs. company ROKK Solutions, which left Ms. Sinema’s office in February after more than three years of working in her office.

Party leaders expressed cautious optimism that they could pass the package with its key elements.

“I really hope that we all come together and pass this bill,” said Mr. Schumer, who said he and his staff had contacted Ms. Sinema about the measure.

Others avoided even commenting on whether they had spoken to Ms. Sinema.

“Why should I share this with any of you at this point? asked Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, smiling with his hands in the air as he boarded the Senate subway.

Ms. Sinema, 46, has frustrated her party by refusing to follow through on some of its top priorities and play a key role in negotiating some of the most difficult bipartisan compromises.

She has angered his colleagues and some voters for opposing their efforts to eliminate the 60-vote threshold that Republicans used to block much of the Democratic agenda. Ms. Sinema also joined Mr. Manchin help kill the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure billand played a key role in the forging of compromise on gun safety efforts which produced the first significant federal legislation on the matter in decades.

She has previously expressed support for investment in climate change, so many Democrats expect her to choose to support the final deal. On the Senate floor Tuesday, lawmakers from both parties decided to talk to her between votes.

Ms. Sinema also listens directly to constituents, activists and local businesses in her state.

Daniel Seiden, president and chief executive of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in an interview that he and several business and industry representatives spoke with Ms. Sinema about the legislation for about 20 minutes Tuesday when he reached her office. . They expressed concern about the structure of the proposed 15 percent minimum tax on corporations, he said.

Ms. Sinema, Mr. Seiden recalled asking for more details about how business would be affected and whether the proposal “could be written better.” But, he added, she “didn’t tip her hand one way or the other.”

Ms. Sinema, who is up for re-election in 2024, also faces a potential primary opponent after backlash over her opposition to ending the failure. The Primary Sinema Project, a political group seeking to oust her, warned that Ms Sinema “better not to spoil it” when the deal was announced, and Rep. Ruben Gallego, a potential challenger and vocal critic, accused the agency that detained her “to try to protect super-rich hedge fund managers so they can pay less tax.”

Her Republican allies and business groups see Ms. Sinema as their last chance to derail a measure they have condemned as damaging to the nation’s economy. Americans For Prosperity, a conservative nonprofit advocacy group with ties to the Tea Party and the Koch brothers, published an online advertisement opposes legislation calling for “Come on Kyrsten…Say NO to Arizona.”

But her colleagues acknowledged that Ms. Sinema rarely seemed hurt by the heat of public campaigning.

“She analyzes it, she takes her own advice, as I think many of you know, and she usually makes her own decisions, completely independent of any pressure she might be under from any quarter,” Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, No. . 2 Republican, told reporters Monday. “So, you know, I think she’s going through that process right now.”

Catie Edmondson and Lisa Friedman contributed to reporting.

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