Sinema urged to support Build Back Better spending plan

State Rep. Richard Andrade, D-Glendale, speaks to state legislators, civil rights activists and local groups who gathered for a rally at the Arizona Capitol to call on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema to “take bold action” on President Joe Biden’s plan to help working families. (Photo by Kevin Hurley/Cronkite News)

A 3-foot ice sculpture of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is displayed at Tuesday’s rally by the Working Families Party. Participants urged the Arizona Democrat to support President Joe Biden’s plan to boost the economy by cutting taxes and lowering costs for workers and families. (Photo by Kevin Hurley/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Democrats in the Legislature and activists from the Working Families Party met Tuesday at the state Capitol to urge Sen. Kyrsten Sinema to take action on President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.

Dolores Huerta, the co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association, was one of many who called upon Sinema to vote yes on Build Back Better, which aims to get the American economy back on track after the COVID-19 pandemic by cutting taxes for workers and families; creating clean-energy jobs; and lowering the cost of housing, health care and education for working families. The plan would be funded by raising taxes on wealthy corporations and Americans earning more than $400,000 a year.

Opponents say the plan would trigger huge increases in inflation and that the plan is far too expensive. Right now there is no exact price tag, but the plan is expected to cost taxpayers trillions of dollars.

Sinema has taken heat from fellow Democrats for some of her Senate votes, most notably in March when she gave a thumbs down on raising the federal minimum wage to $15. Sinema, who has expressed concern over the size of the plan, met in person with Biden to discuss it last week.

Matthew Marquez, Arizona campaign director for the Working Families Party, speaks to rally-goers who gathered at the state Capitol to call on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema to support President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. The Working Families Party describes itself as a multiracial party that fights for “workers over bosses and people over the powerful.” (Photo by Kevin Hurley/Cronkite News)

Tuesday’s rally was the latest in a string of events from activists geared toward Sen. Sinema and Sen. Mark Kelly, who’s also a Democrat.

“Where are you, Senator Sinema, now that we need you?” Huerta asked. “You have heard the testimonies here of all the people of Arizona that need you right now. People believed in you. They sent you to Congress, and now it is time for you to act, not only for the people of Arizona but for the people of the United States of America.”

Sinema’s office had no comment.

State Rep. Richard Andrade, a Democrat representing west Phoenix, expressed the desperation that some Arizona workers are feeling. “Today we need her in our time of need. We need her to support the Build Back Better Act … and the many acts that are going through. She is the one person who is holding back legislation which benefits working families in Arizona.”

Huerta urged Arizonans to take action into their own hands: “We are the only ones that can move her; we can’t expect anybody else to do it. So I’m going to call upon everybody here. Do whatever we can, in the next week, to let her know that she cannot get away with being the obstacle to progress in the United States of America.”

As of right now, Build Back Better still has to move through several House committees before it can be voted on, so the bill’s timeline remains unclear.

Nick Scheske Nick She-skee (he/him)
News Broadcast Reporter, Phoenix

Nick Scheske expects to graduate in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a minor in communications. Scheske, who interned with Arizona Capitol Television and the Lansing Lugnuts baseball team’s video team, is working for the Phoenix news bureau.

Kevin Hurley(he/him)
News Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Kevin Hurley expects to graduate in spring 2022 with a degree in sports journalism. Hurley, who has interned with Times Media Group and was photo editor of The State Press, is working as a visual reporter in the Phoenix News Bureau.