Sinema rains on Democrats' post-election parade: The Note

She announced Friday morning she's registering as an independent.

December 9, 2022, 6:12 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Democrats, it turns out, will never get to fully enjoy that 51-seat majority. And they have a familiar name to thank for that.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's thunderbolt of an announcement Friday morning that she is leaving the Democratic Party to become an independent changes the post-election narrative and just maybe the governing landscape.

What she's saying stings -- for its indictment of both parties, but particularly the one that she's always called home and that happened to enjoy a better-than-expected election year capped by a win in Georgia this week.

"There's a disconnect between what everyday Americans want and deserve from our politics, and what political parties are offering," Sinema wrote in an Arizona Republic op-ed.

While Sinema said in an interview with Politico that she would not caucus with Republicans and said nothing should "change about the Senate structure" -- assuming that's acceptable with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer -- the announcement upends plans for a smooth move from 50-50 to 51-49.

She also is declining to say if she will run for reelection in 2024 -- a cycle filled with GOP opportunities, and where she was likely to face a Democratic primary. If she were to run as an independent, a potentially wild three-way race in Arizona looms as a headache for Democrats to manage.

Then there's West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin -- the 50th Democrat once again, and who also happens to be up in 2024. The easiest path to him staying in the Senate might be for him to follow Sinema's lead -- in party affiliation, and also potentially in how he continues to vote.

PHOTO: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee hearing to examine social media's impact on homeland security, Sept. 14, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee hearing to examine social media's impact on homeland security, Sept. 14, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. In 2024 Sinema will be up for reelection.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

The nation's first Gen Z congressman is having trouble finding a place to live in Washington, D.C.

Florida Rep.-elect Maxwell Frost tweeted on Thursday that he was denied eligibility for an apartment and lost the fee he paid to apply for it, pointing to his poor credit score that he said was earned by taking on debt in order to campaign and pay bills.

"This ain't meant for people who don't already have money," Frost tweeted.

The issue of lawmakers not being able to afford D.C. digs isn't a new one: When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was first elected in 2018 she, too, initially had trouble finding a place to live while serving her constituents. Other lawmakers have been known to sleep in their Capitol Hill offices to save a buck on housing, a practice some have called for banning.

Members of Congress earn a salary of $174,000 per year, well above the national median.

This illuminates the broader issue of the (un)affordability of housing for everyday Americans. According to a report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, the costs of rental housing and home ownership continued to climb in 2022, which in tandem with inflationary upticks in food and energy costs have compounded pressures for financially stressed households.

Frost acknowledged that the issues he has confronted in coming to the capital will likely dissolve when he starts to receive a congressional salary in the new year.

"I'm speaking from a point of privilege cause in 2 years time, my credit will be okay because of my new salary that starts next year. We have to do better for the whole country," he wrote.

PHOTO: In this Nov. 18, 2022, file photo, Representative-elect Maxwell Frost speaks during a press conference at Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C.
In this Nov. 18, 2022, file photo, Representative-elect Maxwell Frost speaks during a press conference with newly elected Hispanic House members at Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Francis Chung/Politico via AP, FILE

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

The final votes of the 2022 election season will be cast in Louisiana on Saturday as voters head to the polls for runoff elections to voice their positions on a slate of local seats and a handful of constitutional amendments.

One of the three proposed changes to the constitution on the ballot asks Louisiana voters whether non-U.S. citizens should be allowed to vote in the state. Although Louisiana law currently bans anyone who is not "a citizen of the state" from voting, the state's top election official said the phrasing of the provision could cause confusion, which is what the amendment is aiming to address.

"The law says you have to be a Louisiana resident. So does the constitution. But a Louisiana resident isn't necessarily a United States citizen. And so we wanted to make sure that we closed that loophole, because if any local government decided to allow non-citizens to vote in our elections -- in their elections locally –- then that would really put our system at risk because we would have to redo our voter registration system and I think that would just obliterate it," Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said during a recent appearance on Baton Rouge's public radio, WRKF.

The question of whether non-citizens should be allowed to vote in some elections has been addressed in other areas of the country -- the most high-profile case being New York City's "Our City, Our Vote" bill. That legislation would have made more than 800,000 adults eligible to vote for mayor, public advocate and other city posts beginning next year but did not permit non-citizens to vote for any state or federal office. The legislation was later struck down by a Staten Island judge.

PHOTO: In this Nov. 3, 2020, people line up to vote on Election Day at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School, in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans.
In this Nov. 3, 2020, people line up to vote on Election Day at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School, in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans.
Gerald Herbert/AP, FILE

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. "Start Here" begins Friday morning with ABC's Patrick Reevell breaking down Brittney Griner's release from Russian detention and the prisoner swap that freed her. Then ABC's Elizabeth Neumann reports on recent attacks on power grids following the North Carolina outage. And, ABC's Aude Soichet details the dangers of black-market Brazilian butt lifts. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS WEEKEND

  • First lady Jill Biden will speak from the White House at 11:45 a.m. ET on Friday on "the importance of getting an updated COVID-19 vaccine this holiday season, especially for Americans ages 50 and older."
  • On ABC's "This Week": Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., and NASA'S Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa E. Wyche; at the roundtable; ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega, ABC News Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott, former New Jersey governor and ABC News contributor Chris Christie, and Former North Dakota senator and ABC News contributor Heidi Heitkamp.

Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back next week for the latest.

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