The decision by Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema to switch her party affiliation to an independent is creating a new complication for Democrats in the Senate. After Sen. Raphael Warnock’s win in Georgia gave the Democrats 51 seats in the next Congress, Sinema’s move could complicate their chances of securing an outright majority.
Although the Democrats are expected to have a solid majority, the balance of power in the Senate is not expected to change following Sinema's announcement. As it stands, the party will still be able to control the committees.
Currently, the Democrats have a 50-50 majority in the Senate. Two independents, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Maine Senator Angus King, are also part of the party's caucus.
Although she did not explicitly state that she would leave the party, Sinema's office stated that she would maintain her committee assignments under the Democrats' majority.
What is clear: Sinema won't caucus with the Republicans, she told Politico.
According to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, he agreed to Sinema's request to keep her committee assignments. He also noted that the Democrats would have a 51-49 majority next year.
In a statement, Chuck praised Sinema's work and said that she would continue to be an effective senator. He noted that the Democrats would be able to use their majority to confirm nominees and exercise their subpoena power.
Sinema's decision to switch her party affiliation isn't a surprise, as she has been a thorn in the Democrats' side during her time in the Senate. She has been a leading voice in the negotiations on various issues such as gun safety and infrastructure. Before becoming a senator, she was a member of the Green Party. Her decision to leave the party will have a huge impact on the Democratic caucus as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia's vote will continue to be influential.
A White House official noted that the decision by Sinema to switch her party affiliation would not have a major impact on the Democrats' majority. According to the official, they were informed about her plans to leave the party on Thursday.
A WH official says they were informed about Sinema Thurs afternoon, and believe it will not impact their Senate majority. They don't think "it changes much except her re-election path."
— Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) December 9, 2022
Some Democrats have criticized Sinema's independent streak, and prior to her announcement, she was facing a primary challenge from Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona. Since she became an independent, she would be able to bypass the primary and run for a second term without facing another challenger.
The preceding is a summary of an article that originally appeared on Washington Examiner.