What to Know in Washington: Kyrsten Sinema Declares Independence

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Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema Friday registered as an independent, roiling the Democrats’ plans for a clean 51-seat majority in the chamber.

Sinema, who has been known as a swing vote on key issues, suggested she would maintain her centrist voting record.

“Becoming an independent won’t change my work in the Senate; my service to Arizona remains the same,” she wrote in an op-ed in the Arizona Republic.

Her move won’t by itself affect the overall control of the Senate next year, but it could complicate the party’s agenda. In an interview with Politico also published Friday, Sinema said she didn’t intend to caucus with the Republicans.

Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) on Nov. 16 in Washington, D.C.

“I don’t anticipate that anything will change about the Senate structure,” Sinema said, adding that some of the exact mechanics of how her switch affects the Senate is a question for Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “I intend to show up to work, do the same work that I always do. I just intend to show up to work as an independent,” she added.

With Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock’s reelection on Tuesday, Democrats secured a 51-seat majority in the Senate. That would allow them stronger control of committees and Senate activity than the 50-50 balance of the last two years, which Democrats controlled only through tie-breaking voted by Vice President Kamala Harris.

The move complicates the balance of power between Democrats and Republicans in the 118th Congress ahead of 2024, when Sinema would face re-election if she runs. “Partisan control is a question for the partisans,” she told Politico. “And not really one for me.” Read more from Magan Crane.

Happening on the Hill


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FTX CEO Ray to Testify at US House Committee Hearing Dec. 13

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Ethics Rules Gap Made it Easier to Befriend Justices, House Told

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Senate Backs Pay Equity Legislation for Team USA Athletes

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Congress Readies Last-Ditch Effort to Limit Land Tax Deductions

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Elections, Politics & Probes

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Around the Administration


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  • A $36 billion Biden administration allocation to the Central States Pension Fund is the culmination of a decades-long effort mired in controversy to ensure pensioners’ benefits aren’t slashed due to funding troubles until at least 2051. Read more
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Billions for Carbon Removal Crucial to Net Zero Goal, Moniz Says

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US Questions Automakers in Probe of Potential Air-Bag Explosions

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Tech Giants to Fight for Individual Tasks on $9 Billion Contract

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To contact the reporters on this story: Michaela Ross in Washington at mross@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew Small at asmall@bgov.com

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