Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) faced criticism Friday afternoon for the way in which she chose to vote against a provision to gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour â€• with an exaggerated thumbs-down hand gesture.
Although hand gestures are commonplace on the Senate floor, particularly in the coronavirus era, Sinemaâ€™s casual body language was disappointing to some who saw the gesture as belittling the fight to end poverty wages.
Sinemaâ€™s office responded to a question about the gesture by making the absurd claim that the inquiry is sexist.Â â€œCommentary about a female senatorâ€™s body language, clothing, or physical demeanor does not belong in a serious media outlet,â€ Hannah Hurley, a spokesperson for Sinema, told HuffPost.Â
More than 800,000 Arizona residents would be affected by the minimum wage increase, according to analysis by the Brookings Institution.
In a statement highlighting her support for minimum wage increases in her state in 2006 and 2016, Sinema said Friday that she knows â€œthe difference better wages can make.â€ But she said the Senate should hold an open debate on the issue of raising the federal minimum wage, rather than include it in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that is currently under consideration in the chamber.
Democratic leadership is working to pass the rescue bill using a process known as budget reconciliation, because it allows them to circumvent the filibuster rule that would otherwise prevent the bill from ever being brought to the floor for a final vote, given the current 50-50 party split in the Senate.
The filibuster would almost certainly prevent a standalone $15-an-hour minimum wage bill from passing, however, and Sinema does not support progressive attempts to abolish the rule.Â
Sarah Ruiz-Grossman contributed reporting.
Calling all HuffPost superfans!
Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter