Democrats celebrated after the Georgia runoffs this past January secured the party a razor-thin majority in the Senate. Months later, that optimism has been deflated by Senate Republicans' eager use of the filibuster—which requires 60 votes to allow a bill to advance to the floor—to block Democratic legislation.
But while Republicans were always expected to exploit the filibuster, it's moderate Democrats who are taking heat from voters for their unwillingness to abolish or even modify the rule.
Among these is Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. In addition to her opposition to filibuster reform, she's currently withholding her vote on President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill, which can bypass the filibuster through the reconciliation process, but requires every single Democratic vote.
The widely popular bill would dramatically expand medicare, provide universal pre-K and two years of community college, and reinvigorate the fight against the climate crisis.
It would also decrease prescription drug prices—an initiative at odds with the pharmaceutical industry, which makes up some of Sinema's largest donors.
A recent profile on Sinema for Time Magazine featured comments from former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, who said Sinema was hoping for a similar legacy to the late Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, known partly for his willingness to buck the mainstream Republican agenda.
"I think she definitely would like for her legacy to be 'the maverick' like him. He was instinctively drawn to doing the opposite of what he was told and what people expected. She's definitely attracted to that image."
Firebrand progressive Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a vocal proponent of the $3.5 trillion bill, scoffed at the idea of Sinema as a "maverick."
She made her thoughts known in a recent tweet.
People largely agreed.
People made sure Sinema saw the subtweet.
Congress and Biden are still wrangling to get both the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, as well as a bipartisan Senate-backed infrastructure bill, onto the President's desk.