Sen. Kyrsten Sinema complains criticism of her vote against $15 minimum wage hike is sexist

The Arizona Democrat walked in with a cake, shot down the $15 minimum wage provision and struck a pose

By Jon Skolnik
March 6, 2021 4:14PM (UTC)
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Kyrsten Sinema Votes No on $15 minimum wage (C-SPAN)

On Thursday, after a month-long Democratic-backed effort to put a $15 minimum wage mandate into the latest COVID relief bill, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. –– and several others in the Democratic caucus –– killed the effort on the Senate floor, deciding in a 58-42 vote that the minimum wage provision should not be included. 

Sinema, brought with her big chocolate cake into the Senate chamber, where, with a pep in her step and a Lululemon bag on her shoulder, she struck a pose and voted against the wage hike.

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"I understand what it is like to face tough choices while working to meet your family's most basic needs," Sinema tweeted after the vote. "I also know the difference better wages can make [...] Senators in both parties have shown support for raising the minimum wage and the Senate should hold an open debate and amendment process on raising the minimum wage."

With Sinema and fellow moderates holding the democratic process hostage to arcane rules, it appears there is little hope for a wage increase in the legislature, given the Democrats' inexplicable penchant for the filibuster, an archaic and anti-democratic tool historically used to impede civil rights bills.

Sinema's display sparked a predictable conflagration of fury on Twitter. Many pounced upon her past rhetoric, in which she routinely called for raising the minimum wage. 

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"A full-time minimum-wage earner makes less than $16k a year. This one's a no-brainer. Tell Congress to #RaiseTheWage," Sinema tweeted in 2014, to which one user on Friday replied, "Hello Kyrsten 2014, meet Kyrsten 2021."

Posting the video of Sinema voting no, Sawyer Hackett, Senior Advisor for Sen. Julian Castro, chimed in: "Did Sinema really have vote against a $15 minimum wage for 24 million people like this?"

Progress Arizona, a Phoenix-based advocacy group, tweeted plans to project a message protesting Sinema's vote onto building visible from the I-10. "Arcane Senate rules can not be more important than fighting for a living wage for workers now."

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On Friday, Azcentral, one of Arizona's largest online news sites, published a scathing op-ed decrying the Senator's vote. "Forget the $15-an-hour minimum wage or immigration and election reform," it argued, "Sen. Kyrsten Sinema apparently wants the little people to eat cake instead."

But Sinema's office complained that much of the focus on her appears to be sexist. 

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Sinema's spokesperson Hannay Hurley told the Huffington Post that "commentary about a female senator's body language, clothing, or physical demeanor does not belong in a serious media outlet."


Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, AlterNet, and The New York Daily News.

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