At Update from Capitol Hill luncheon, Sinema, Ciscomani and Lesko speak to business community

Arizona’s top elected, business and community leaders convened Thursday for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s annual Update from Capitol Hill luncheon, highlighting federal efforts to fuel the state’s already booming economy. 

The event, sponsored by Philip Morris International, featured remarks from members of Arizona’s congressional delegation Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, Rep. Juan Ciscomani, and Rep. Debbie Lesko, as well as Mitch Landrieu, senior advisor to President Joe Biden, who is overseeing the implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure law passed by Congress in 2021. 

“PMI is proud to partner with the Arizona Chamber and serve as the presenting sponsor of its 2023 Update from Capitol Hill luncheon,” said Amanda Wheeler, PMI’s regional director of external affairs for the Southwest region. “At Philip Morris International, we are transforming our company completely away from cigarettes, and both our investment and progress in this mission are unmatched in the industry. For the first time ever, we have entered the U.S. market, not to sell cigarettes, but to deliver a leading portfolio of scientifically substantiated smoke-free products—that are better choices than continued smoking—to America’s 31 million adult smokers.” 

Chamber President and CEO Danny Seiden began the program with remarks on the service of the delegation and press speculation about Sinema’s recent registration as an Independent. 

“The people we send to Washington should not be a rubber stamp for a single political party. They should be there to represent every one of us. Our families, our friends, our neighbors,” Seiden said. 

In her speech, Sinema said she’s laser-focused on the priority issues facing Arizona and the country, and that she ignores Beltway pundits and talking heads, encouraging the audience to do the same. 

Sinema focused on what she said where her efforts to overcome partisan gridlock and political grandstanding to pass the bipartisan infrastructure law, boost American manufacturing and scientific innovation, support various behavioral and mental health programs helping all Arizonans, and build meaningful partnerships, including with the Arizona business community and the members of the Chamber. 

Looking forward, Sinema’s top policy priorities include securing the southern border, further advancing American self-reliance by building on the CHIPS Act and assisting the American energy industry and strengthening American supply chains. 

In fact, Sinema has sponsored legislation with other senators, including the Border Solutions Act, which creates regional migrant processing centers, expediting the immigration process for thousands of immigrants attempting to make their way to America. 

Alongside Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sinema has co-sponsored legislation that would grant asylum-seekers work visas as they legally undergo immigration procedures, enabling many employers to boost their workforce and helping to ensure America doesn’t face severe negative consequences as a result of poor border policy. 

What’s more, when Seiden asked Sinema whether intense partisan sniping makes it more difficult to work in Washington D.C., she said, “There are workhorses and show horses in D.C., but the ones making all the noise aren’t making the laws.” 

Asked about whether switching from the Democratic Party to becoming an Independent changes how she works, Sinema responded that her political affiliation “doesn’t change anything (for me) in D.C. I’ve always been a pain in the ass to both parties.” 

“The only thing that’s changed for me is the letter at the end of my name. I’m proud to show up every day to work to say I’m an Independent. I’ll work with anyone to solve the challenges we face in Arizona,” she said. 

When asked whether she’ll follow through with a reelection run for the U.S. Senate in 2024, Sinema said, “You may not get an announcement out of me today, but you will get a commitment: I will continue doing this hard work day-in and day-out until we get what’s right for our state.” 

In her remarks, Lesko touted much of the work her Republican colleagues have accomplished since gaining a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

“Republicans are pushing forward, leading the way to lower costs for all Americans,” she said. 

Lesko cited recent legislative victories including H.R. 1, the “Low Energy Costs Act,” comprising 16 different individual bills, including a measure drafted by Lesko, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Lesko says this legislation will bolster American energy markets, promote more American jobs within the energy sector, and reduce burdensome permitting regulations currently preventing the U.S. from regaining and/or furthering energy independence.  

Ciscomani, amplified the luncheon’s theme of Congress’ work with the business community. He stressed the importance of today’s leaders possessing an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit – working daily with passion, focus, and energy – as Arizona positions itself at the forefront of the 21st century economy. 

Just three months into the job, Ciscomani has already been appointed to Appropriations Committee; delivered the GOP’s Spanish language response to President Biden’s State of the Union– the only response to the State of the Union from the U.S. House of Representatives; introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at cutting VA wait times and permanently authorizing the U.S. VET-TEC Program; established a Southern Arizona Citizens Advisory Council; and even presided over proceedings on the U.S. House floor. 

Ciscomani, Arizona’s first naturalized Mexican American member of Congress, also stressed his focus on preserving the American dream, saying “only in America, could we have a story like this.” 

Ciscomani reflected on his upbringing and how just 20 years ago he was a U.S. Green Card holder and intern on Capitol Hill. 

Ciscomani says these experiences helped him learn the value of hard work, which translates perfectly to Congress, where he strives to set aside partisan blinders, focused on working to positively impact his Southern Arizona district and the rest of the state. 

Landrieu echoed Ciscomani’s “one team, one fight” statements, adding “When we do things together, there’s nothing we can’t do.” 

Landrieu cited important, bipartisan policies currently pouring substantial investments into American businesses, especially those in Arizona. 

Landrieu acknowledged that cross-sector, and tri-partisan efforts have all accelerated the clean energy economy and made our country more self-sufficient. Within the last year, Congress and President Biden passed the largest investment packages in the last 40 years, enacting both the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, along with 23,000 current country-wide, government-sponsored projects have all contributed to building a stronger economy in the wake of an unprecedented global pandemic. 

Moreover, Landrieu heavily endorsed Sinema’s “workhorse efforts” as the independent senator has been a “great champion” for finding common ground with her colleagues to do what’s best for the state and country.

Michael Kittilson

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