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Sinema to Raise Money From Business Groups That Oppose Budget Bill

Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, the inscrutable Democrat who may hold the key to passing her party’s ambitious social policy and climate bill, is scheduled to have a fund-raiser on Tuesday afternoon with five business lobbying groups, many of which fiercely oppose the bill.

Under Ms. Sinema’s political logo, the influential National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and the grocers’ PAC, along with lobbyists for roofers and electrical contractors and a small business group called the S-Corp political action committee, have invited association members to an undisclosed location on Tuesday afternoon to write checks for between $1,000 and $5,800, payable to Sinema for Arizona.

Full vaccinations for Covid-19 will be required, according to the invitation.

The planned event comes during a make-or-break week for President Biden’s agenda, when House Democrats are trying to pass a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill that Ms. Sinema helped negotiate, and trying to nail down the details of a social policy and climate bill that could spend as much as $3.5 trillion over the next decade.

Ms. Sinema has said she cannot support a bill that large, and has privately told Senate Democratic colleagues that she is averse to the corporate and individual tax rate increases that both the House and Senate tax-writing committees had planned to use to help pay for the measure.

In both positions, she is likely to find a receptive audience at the fund-raiser. The S-Corp PAC, for instance, has told its members the rate increases in the package that passed the House Ways and Means Committee “would kneecap private companies” like theirs that pay taxes through the individual tax system, not the corporate tax system.

Eric Hoplin, chief executive officer of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, which buy products from manufacturers at wholesale rates and distribute them to retailers, said in a statement earlier this month: “Passing the largest tax increase in U.S. history on the backs of America’s job creators as they recover from a global pandemic is the last thing Washington should be doing.”

In a lengthy message to members this month, Robert Yeakel, director of government relations at the National Grocers Association, went over a “laundry list of tax hikes that Democrats are contemplating.”

“Even if a handful of moderates balk at many of these hikes (Senators Sinema and Manchin have already publicly opposed the $3.5 number), grocers and other industries are still going to see a jump in their tax bill,” he wrote, referring also to Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia.

In a Senate that is equally divided between Republicans and members who caucus with the Democrats, a single vote can decide the fate of legislation, and Ms. Sinema has not been shy about using that power. Exactly what she will and will not accept in the final bill is not yet clear, but colleagues say she is going through its contents methodically.

John LaBombard, a spokesman for Ms. Sinema, would not comment on the fund-raiser but said the senator “voted yes in August on the budget resolution” that paved the way for a social policy and climate bill that cannot be filibustered by Republicans. He added that she was “working directly, in good faith, on the legislation with her colleagues and the administration.”

Jim Dudlicek, communications director for the grocers association, said the organization would have no comment on the fund-raiser.