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Kyrsten Sinema is the biggest loser after Senate border bill fails

The Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill is dead. And the Arizona independent’s political career may have died with it.


Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s pointed remarks after Senate Republicans blew up the bipartisan border agreement she helped negotiate have lingered with me.

In a speech from the Senate floor Wednesday, the Arizona independent took a swipe at people using the “border crisis” for political gain:

So if you want to spin the border crisis for your own political agendas, go right ahead. If you want to continue to use the southern border as a backdrop for your political campaign, that’s fine — good luck to you. But I have a very clear message for anyone using the southern border for staged political events: Don’t come to Arizona; take your political theater to Texas. Do not bring it to my state.

And while Sinema’s known for cheekiness, I did sense a bit more oomph behind these comments. A sharpness, if you will. And can you blame her?

Of all the people involved in the border negotiations, Sinema — the newly minted independent who has branded herself as a deal-maker — arguably had the most to gain from an agreement. A deluge of Republicans came out against the deal after Trump publicly urged them not to compromise. And the bill had plenty of critics on the Democratic side as well, given its many concessions to hard-line conservatives, though some Democrats obviously saw this as an opportunity to get something — anything — done on the issue of immigration.

Although Sinema still hasn’t announced whether she’ll run for re-election in November, she framed her departure from the Democratic Party in late 2022 as a move that would help her continue to deliver “lasting legislative successes” for Arizona. I think we can all agree that was a bold promise. But it’s also one she failed to deliver on in her first major negotiations as a political loner.

A few months ago, I wrote about my belief that Sinema would face a steep climb in order to keep her seat as an independent in Arizona, even though many in the state consider themselves unaffiliated with a political party.

Since then, there have been some indicators, such as Sinema’s lackluster fundraising to close out 2023, that she may not be planning a re-election campaign. Time will tell, as the cliché goes. But a shiny new immigration bill sure could have been a powerful piece of evidence to show voters that her newfound independence is worthwhile.