Independent Kyrsten Sinema won't change the US Senate
Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, DC shares his perspective on US politics.
What does Kyrsten Sinema caucusing as an independent mean for the United States Senate next year?
And the short answer is, according to her, not much.
Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema today told Democratic Party leaders that she would be no longer identifying as a Democrat, instead choosing to identify as one of the Senate's three independents. Functionally, this probably doesn't mean much because Sinema says this won't affect the functioning of the Senate. Meaning that committee ratios are still expected to favor Democrats next year, giving them more power to easily report nominations and conduct oversight, but also that she would support Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer as the majority leader next year.
Probably where this has a bigger impact is in Sinema's own reelection campaign in 2024. She now can avoid a party primary, which was expected to be from a very well-funded Democrat, as Democrats aren't super happy with Sinema for having frustrated parts of Joe Biden's legislative agenda over the last two years. She can now run as an independent in the swing state of Arizona, which is going to be a presidential battleground state with lots of money and attention paid there in '24. And her expectation, assuming she runs, will be to split the Democratic and the Republican votes in the state and win reelection.