Hours after 13 Sunrise Movement activists were arrested at the Students March on Congress for Climate Action in Washington, D.C., members of the youth-led environmental group rallied for a Monday evening protest outside Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's Phoenix office to demand that the Arizona Democrat support at least a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package that funds robust measures to combat the climate emergency.
"While Sen. Sinema caters to fossil fuel executives in D.C., young Arizonans are outside her office demanding she listen to them as they face record drought and extreme heatwaves killing their communities."
—Varshini Prakash, Sunrise Movement
"While Sen. Sinema caters to fossil fuel executives in D.C., young Arizonans are outside her office demanding she listen to them as they face record drought and extreme heatwaves killing their communities," Sunrise Movement executive director Varshini Prakash said in a statement Tuesday.
Activists have joined progressive U.S. lawmakers in pushing back against efforts by Republicans and right-wing Democrats including Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) seeking to defeat or dilute the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act, a popular package that, if passed, would fund bold climate action, poverty alleviation, healthcare and education expansion, and infrastructure improvements.
Sinema and Manchin also oppose abolishing the filibuster, a move that would allow Democrats to pass the package and address other Democratic priorities without reaching the current 60-vote threshold or having to rely on the budget reconciliation process.
"Sen. Sinema and Democrats, who do you work for? Do you work for the young, BIPOC, and working people who put their lives on hold to elect you?" asked Prakash. "Or do you work for ExxonMobil and fossil fuel corporations, who pollute the air we breathe, the water we drink, and have caused the climate crisis in the first place?"
In July, the climate advocacy group Oil Change U.S. revealed that Sinema, Manchin, and four other conservative Democratic senators collectively received nearly $330,000 in contributions from ExxonMobil lobbyists.
Prakash said that President Joe Biden and Congress "must pass at least a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package to boldly invest in our infrastructure and pass a fully funded Civilian Climate Corps so we can finally kick off the decade of the Green New Deal."
The Civilian Climate Corps is a proposed government jobs program that would put people to work directly combating the climate crisis.
"Failing to deliver on the mandate Democrats were elected on means that they risk disillusioning young people, their base, and holding onto power in 2022," Prakash warned. "We did our part, now it's time for Democrats to deliver on their promises."