Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Friday announced he will let Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) keep her committee assignments after she dropped her affiliation with the Democratic Party and said she would identify as an Independent.
Schumer added Sinema’s decision will not affect Democratic control of the Senate’s committees, including the power to issue subpoenas and discharge legislation without Republican support — powers the Democratic majority gained after winning the Senate runoff in Georgia this month.
“Sen. Sinema informed me of her decision to change her affiliation to Independent. She asked me to keep her committee assignments and I agreed,” Schumer said in a statement.
“Kyrsten is independent; that’s how she’s always been. I believe she’s a good and effective Senator and am looking forward to a productive session in the new Democratic majority Senate,” he said. “We will maintain our new majority on committees, exercise our subpoena power, and be able to clear nominees without discharge votes.”
Sinema currently sits on the Senate Banking Committee, the Commerce Committee, the Homeland Security Committee and the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Sinema announced in an op-ed published by The Arizona Republic that she has decided to leave the Democratic Party in order to separate herself from partisan politics.
“When politician are more focused on denying the opposition party a victory than they are on improving Americans’ lives, the people who lose are everyday Americans,” she wrote.
“That’s why I have joined the growing numbers of Arizonans who reject party politics by declaring my independence from the broken partisan system in Washington,” she added. “I registered as an Arizona independent.”
Two other senators who identify as Independents also receive their committee assignments from the Senate Democratic leader: Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Sen. Angus King (Maine).