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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

Rashida Tlaib warns of “corporate Dems” killing Biden bill

Rep. Rashida Tlaib speaks with Axios' Jonathan Swan. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) told "Axios on HBO" she's "fearful" of what will happen to President Biden's big social spending bill in the Senate because "corporate Democrats" — including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — are serving special interests.

Driving the news: "I know that they've been influenced and guided by folks that don't have the best interests of the American people in mind," the Squad member said.

Vermont Rep. Peter Welch to seek Leahy's Senate seat

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) speaking during a hearing in May 2020. Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) announced Monday he will run for the U.S. Senate seat that will be left open after Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) retires in 2022.

Why it matters: Welch's candidacy for Senate was expected, but it now leaves an open race for his at-large seat in the House.

Fed signals it could yank economic support quicker as inflation sticks around

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell testifies during a hearing before Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee today. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve will consider pulling back economic support sooner "as the threat of persistently high inflation has grown," chair Jerome Powell said during a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Why it matters: This is the biggest signal yet the Fed is backing away from its stance that soaring prices would be fleeting — a change that could shift its policies that underpin the economy.