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Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Bernie Sanders arrive in the Capitol for a vote in July 2020. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) withheld support for a joint statement condemning last weekend's protests against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) because it also wouldn't include a rebuke of her political views, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The move is emblematic of the hostility between the progressive and moderate members, who have been sparring over the cost and scope of President Biden's agenda. Sanders wanted the statement to urge Sinema to drop her opposition to prescription drug reform, as well as Biden's $3.5 trillion social safety net expansion.

Driving the news: An email exchange between Senate Democratic leadership aides, obtained by Axios, reveals Sanders withheld his name from a joint statement declaring protesters who followed Sinema into a bathroom — and filmed her while using the restroom — as "plainly inappropriate and unacceptable."

  • Sanders' communications director Mike Casca asked that the statement be edited to include the preface, "While we hope Senator Sinema will change her position on prescription drug reform and support a major [budget] reconciliation bill, ..."
  • An aide to Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who organized the statement, said Booker would not accept the edits.
  • Casca later replied: "Sanders will not be signing, so please cut 'Senate Democratic Leadership Team' from headline."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.) all signed onto the statement in addition to Booker.

  • Excerpts of the leaked exchange are shown below. Axios has confirmed the contents of the full exchange with other Senate offices.
  • Casca, Sanders' communications director, declined comment. Sinema's spokesman also declined comment.

State of play: The statement has not been published. It's currently unclear whether it will run.

Between the lines: The move comes as those in Sinema's orbit have privately vented frustration that her fellow Democratic senators and the White House haven’t more forcefully spoken out.

  • She described the incident at Arizona State University as "not legitimate protest," and "wholly inappropriate."
  • On Monday, Biden told reporters he didn't think the protesters' tactics were "appropriate," then added, "but it happens to everybody."
  • The president went on to say, "The only people it doesn’t happen to are people who have Secret Service standing around them. So, it’s part of the process."

Screenshotted excerpts of the email exchange, obtained by Axios:

Screenshots of the email exchange, obtained by Axios.
Screenshots of the email exchange, obtained by Axios.
Screenshots of the email exchange, obtained by Axios.

Go deeper

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Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.

White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11

Charles Muro, 13, is inoculated at Hartford Healthcare's mass vaccination center at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday released its plan to vaccinate children between the ages of five and 11, pending authorization from the Food and Drug Administration of the first COVID-19 shot for that age group.

The big picture: The White House said it has secured enough vaccine supply to equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of school and community health clinics, as well as tens of thousands of pharmacies, to administer the shots.

1 hour ago - Sports

Where it stands: Weed policies by U.S. sports league

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With public support for marijuana legalization nearing unanimity, and more athletes using cannabis to treat pain, the four major U.S. sports leagues continue to reduce restrictions and punishments.

Driving the news: NBA players won't be subject to random marijuana testing this season, an extension of an agreement between the league and its players' union that began ahead of the 2020 Orlando restart.