Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized her fellow Democratic lawmaker, Sen. Joe Manchin, on Thursday, following reports that the West Virginia senator is telling colleagues that progressives need to nix some policies aimed at helping working families from the party’s final spending bill.
Amid ongoing inter-party fighting over the massive reconciliation bill, Axios reported Thursday that Manchin is demanding progressive Democrats pick one of President Joe Biden’s three policies and abandon the other two.
“Ah yes, the Conservative Dem position: ‘You can either feed your kid, recover from your c-section, or have childcare so you can go to work – but not all three. All 3 makes you entitled and lazy,'” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
Progressives like Ocasio-Cortez are fighting to keep all the proposed assistance programs in the final package by funding them for shorter amounts of time in order to lower the final price on the package, while centrists in the party are opting for the opposite approach: cutting the number of programs but funding them for longer.
The three working family programs that Manchin has targeted would likely cost around $1.4 trillion alone, according to Axios, with the expanded $3,600-per-child tax credit coming in at $450 billion, the estimated cost of paid family medical leave clocking in around $500 billion, and daycare subsidies and universal preschool costing $450 billion.
Democrats in Congress are fiercely negotiating over two bills that would make up President Joe Biden’s domestic economic agenda: A bipartisan infrastructure bill that would add $550 billion in new spending, and a social spending bill to be passed in reconciliation worth as much as $3.5 trillion.
Those top-line spending figures are a big sticking point for centrist Democrats Sen. Joe Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
But there’s an enormous catch: Both bills are designed to spread spending out over a decade. And looking at the federal government’s projected other outlays over the next 10 years gives a little perspective – the current proposals are just a fraction of what the government spends on the military and support for older Americans.
The Congressional Budget Office regularly publishes estimates for what the US government will likely spend on programs such as defense, Social Security, and Medicare over the coming years. Totaled up between the 2022 and 2031 fiscal years, those estimates dwarf the current spending proposals:
Putting the sticker shock into perspective
Moderates including Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have cited the sticker shock of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package as a reason for opposition and further negotiation.
Manchin – who backed up to $4 trillion in infrastructure spending just months ago – now says $1.5 trillion is his cutoff. Sinema has also said that she doesn’t support a $3.5 trillion bill. Biden took aim at those two moderates on Monday, saying, “I need 50 votes in the Senate. I have 48.”
But as the above chart shows, that sticker price doesn’t tell the whole story. Looking at other major federal programs under the same terms shows much larger 10-year outlays than the social spending package causing so much contention. CBO estimates that the defense budget over the next decade will top $7 trillion, while Social Security and Medicare will each easily clear $15 trillion – more than three times the combined proposed spending in the two bills under consideration.
Even the $3.5 trillion is lower than progressives initially wanted. Sen. Bernie Sanders had drafted a $6 trillion proposal before Democrats moved forward on the current framework, which would still come in below defense spending.
Ocasio-Cortez has said that a $10 trillion package would be more in line with what’s need to tackle America’s challenges. She said that amount would improve healthcare and housing supply, and bring down carbon emissions.
For now, though, it looks like Democrats will move forward with a fraction of that.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blamed what she called Facebook’s “monopolistic behavior” for the impacts of Monday’s Facebook outage that affected WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger.
She specifically responded to a claim that Latin American communities were disproportionately affected by the Facebook outage on Monday, due to the high use of WhatsApp.
“It’s almost as if Facebook’s monopolistic mission to either own, copy, or destroy any competing platform has incredibly destructive effects on free society and democracy,” the congresswoman said on Twitter, in response to Forbes editor José Caparroso.
“Remember: WhatsApp wasn’t created by Facebook. It was an independent success. FB got scared & bought it,” Ocasio-Cortez continued.
During the outage, Caparroso tweeted: “Latin America lives on WhatsApp. I am surprised by so many people underestimating how catastrophic this downfall has been.”
Other social media users agreed. “The repercussions of WhatsApp being down in The Rest Of The World are vast and devastating. It’s like the equivalent of your phone and the phones of all of your loved ones being turned off without warning. The app essentially functions as an unregulated utility,” said Aura Bogado, a reporter and producer at Reveal.
“If Facebook’s monopolistic behavior was checked back when it should’ve been (perhaps around the time it started acquiring competitors like Instagram), the continents of people who depend on WhatsApp & IG for either communication or commerce would be fine right now,” Ocasio-Cortez added. “Break them up.”
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has been a staunch supporter of breaking up big tech and supported Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plan during her 2020 presidential campaign, according to Politico.
“Facebook as a basic communications platform while also selling ads and also being a surveillance platform,” Ocasio-Cortez said to Politico in 2019. “Those functions should be broken up, but how that gets levied and how that gets approached is what we need to take a fine-tooth comb at.”
The Facebook outage lasted 6 hours and was restored before 6 p.m. ET.
“*Sincere* apologies to everyone impacted by outages of Facebook-powered services right now. We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible,” said Mike Schroepfer, the chief technology officer for Facebook, via Twitter this afternoon.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is once again making it clear that progressives want to go big with social infrastructure spending, even amidst pushback from the moderate wing of the party.
On Twitter, she wrote that a $1 trillion bill would come to just about $100 billion every year.
“That’s the annual budget for NYC alone, but spread thin for everyone in the US. Do you think that’s enough to be impactful? To be widely felt in people’s lives? It’s not. Sufficiency is the bare minimum,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote, implying that $1 trillion falls below her acceptable minimum.
Indeed, New York City’s most recent budget was just shy of $100 billion, according to The City.
Infrastructure talks are currently at an impasse as Democrats hash out how much they’re willing to spend on party-line social spending, in addition to the $1 trillion bipartisan package. That has already been passed by the Senate, meaning it just needs to pass the House. Facing unified Republican opposition to the other measure, Democrats are debating a party-line bill of $3.5 trillion, which may be cut two-thirds in size.
For months, progressives in the House, including Ocasio-Cortez, have stressed that they’ll only vote on a bipartisan infrastructure package if it moves in tandem with the larger social package, which contains major progressive priorities like affordable childcare, climate spending, and a Medicare expansion.
When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to bring forward an unlinked vote on the bipartisan package, progressives pushed back. Ocasio-Cortez said she wouldn’t vote for it unless she got “new information.” Sen. Bernie Sanders urged House progressives to vote it down “until Congress passes a strong reconciliation bill.”
Ultimately, the vote on the bipartisan package was delayed. President Joe Biden stepped in, endorsing progressives’ desire to move the two bills simultaneously – while also suggesting a smaller price tag of $2 trillion. On Monday, Biden took aim at key moderates Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who have both attracted ire for pushing back against the size of the party-line social spending package.
Manchin, for instance, said just months ago that he would be willing to spend up to $4 trillion on an infrastructure package. Now, his topline is $1.5 trillion.
Even $3.5 trillion is lower than some progressives Democrats wanted. Sanders drafted a $6 trillion proposal; Ocasio-Cortez has said she wants $10 trillion. Regardless, it seems that progressives will keep fighting for as much spending as they can.
“We’re taking on the entire ruling class of this country,” Sanders said on ABC’s This Week about the $3.5 trillion package. “Right now the drug companies … the health insurance companies, the fossil fuel industry are spending hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to prevent us from doing what the American people want. And this really is a test of whether or not American democracy can work.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appeared to take a shot at fellow Democratic lawmaker Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in a tweet on Saturday as progressives and moderates struggle to agree on key pieces of legislation.
“There really isn’t anything maverick, innovative, or renegade about being a politician that works with corporate lobbyists to protect the rich, short-shrift working families, and preserve the status quo,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote, adding its one of the “most conventional ways to navigate politics.”
“I think she definitely would like for her legacy to be ‘the maverick’ like him,” Grant Woods, a former Arizona attorney general, told Time magazine. “He was instinctively drawn to doing the opposite of what he was told and what people expected. She’s definitely attracted to that image.”
Representatives for Sinema did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Sinema has refused to support President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” social spending bill, angering progressives and sparking confusion over her stance. The bill would increase taxes on the rich and corporations, expand Medicare and Medicaid, lower prescription drug prices, improve access to childcare, and more.
The bill also needs the support of every Democrat in the Senate, which is split 50-50.
Sinema drew more criticism after The New York Times reported she was hosting a political fundraiser for business lobbying groups that oppose much of the bill.
Former President Donald Trump on Friday poked at Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York over a potential Democratic primary challenge from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2022.
In opining on the ongoing battle over the infrastructure bills currently being debated in Congress, Trump cheered on progressive angst over the size and scope of the individual pieces of legislation.
“The Progressives gain far more power with the legislation being currently talked about by failing than if it passes,” he said in a statement. “It makes them a true powerhouse. Next up, AOC running against Chuck Schumer for his US Senate Seat!”
The statement from the former president comes as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill after progressives revolted over the legislation not being passed in tandem with a larger Democratic-led infrastructure package that is currently being held up by Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona over its $3.5 trillion cost.
Trump has been a harsh critic of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, but his opposition did not deter 19 GOP senators from backing the legislation.
Ocasio-Cortez, a two-term congresswoman and one of the highest-profile progressive lawmakers in the country, told CNN in June that she had a good working relationship with Schumer, but did not rule out any future political plans.
“I know it drives everybody nuts,” she told the network at the time. “But the way that I really feel about this, and the way that I really approach my politics and my political career is that I do not look at things and I do not set my course positionally.”
She added: “I can’t operate the way that I operate and do the things that I do in politics while trying to be aspiring to other things or calculating to other things.”
Schumer, who was first elected to the Senate in 1998, will be running for a fifth term next year while also working to maintain a Democratic legislative majority.
Former President Donald Trump said that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made old men “shiver in fear” in the halls of Congress, reports say.
Trump reportedly made the comments at an event attended by a hundred business leaders in 2019, according to an excerpt from the book “In Trump’s Shadow: The Battle for 2024 and the Future of the GOP” by journalist David Drucker, seen by The Daily Mail.
In the closed-door meeting, Trump called the New York congresswoman a “failed geek” but expressed admiration for her outsize influence within the Democratic Party.
“Let me tell you something about AOC. I’ve watched her walk down the halls of Congress, and I see these old men shiver in fear. They shiver in fear whenever they see her,” Trump said.
“You want to know why? Because AOC has a base, just like me.”
Trump’s comments elicited “nervous laughter” from the crowd, according to the book extract quoted by The Daily Mail.
Trump also reportedly told the business leaders that reelecting him was the only way to continue their work and defeat AOC’s Green New Deal.
“You deﬁnitely want to see me reelected if you want to keep being in business,” Trump said.
“You’ve got this Green New Deal. It’s completely crazy. It’ll completely shut down American energy. And it’s from this failed geek, Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez.”
Trump’s speech was an early reelection pitch, the book said, which came shortly after the Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections.
High-profile business leaders in the audience included Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and CEOs of companies like JP Morgan, Boeing, and Blackrock.
Some members of Trump’s entourage were also in attendance, including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his daughter Ivanka Trump.
If you can’t keep track of Democrats’ massive spending push, you aren’t alone. Even the party’s most impactful senator has changed course multiple times in the past year.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is a pivotal figure in the passage of any Democratic legislation right now. The party holds on to a razor-thin margin, and losing the moderate Democrat’s support would doom much of President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.
The party entered the last week of September with several policy battles to win. Among the most important is Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending plan, which would be the country’s biggest expansion of social programs since the New Deal of the 1930s. It comes in addition to a $1 trillion bill for roads and bridges that passed the Senate in a bipartisan vote.
As negotiations have dragged on, Manchin has emerged as a clear opponent of the larger plan, and thanks to him and fellow moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona, the $3.5 trillion proposal is all but dead. Manchin is now pushing a package that’s less than half the proposed size. In January, he sang a different tune.
In 9 months, Manchin shrunk his price tag by over $1 trillion
In July, Manchin presented his infrastructure proposals to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Politico revealed and Insider confirmed. His $1.5 trillion topline is far lower than the reconciliation package around which Democrats have coalesced.
Manchin reaffirmed his commitment to $1.5 trillion on Thursday, telling reporters that “I believe in my heart” that’s the most that the country can afford right now.
In January, Manchin said he’d back up to $4 trillion in infrastructure spending, as then-president-elect Joe Biden laid out his plans for office.
“The most important thing? Do infrastructure. Spend $2, $3, $4 trillion over a 10-year period on infrastructure,” Manchin told Inside West Virginia Politics in January.
He reaffirmed his support for a larger package in April, as Senate Republicans readied their own much smaller infrastructure package.
“We’re going to do whatever it takes. If it takes $4 trillion, I’d do $4 trillion, but we have to pay for it,” Manchin told reporters at the time, saying that he would go big if the situation warranted it.
The document obtained by Politico is dated July 28, meaning that it came about two weeks after Senate Democrats announced their $3.5 trillion reconciliation deal. Ahead of that deal, Manchin said any Democratic-only plan would need to be fully paid for, and not require borrowing money.
After Manchin presented his proposals to Schumer, all 50 Senate Democrats voted to advance the $3.5 trillion blueprint and send it to the House. That unanimous support is now on the ropes.
Now, it’s progressives versus moderates
For months, progressives have warned they’ll torpedo any attempt to bring the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package without the $3.5 trillion party-line reconciliation moving in tandem. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has attempted to do just that, a risky gamble as there is no guarantee the reconciliation bill would pass afterward.
After the progressive wing of the party pushed back, a Thursday vote on the bipartisan package was pulled as Democrats regrouped and confusion reigns about what comes next.
“We started off with the $10 trillion number. They wanted to bring that down to six, so we obliged, negotiating in good faith. Then several months ago, we had an agreement with Senator Manchin … saying we will move forward on this $3.5 trillion,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told NBC’s Garrett Haake. “Since then, some folks in our party have reneged on that agreement, and that’s where I think we have an issue of trust.”
What is clear, though, is Manchin’s opinion will continue to dictate where the package goes next. And a statement on Wednesday at least signaled where his head is at: “Spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont threw a wrench into congressional infrastructure negotiations on Tuesday – after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threw a wrench into progressives’ voting strategy.
Since late June, when President Joe Biden reached a bipartisan deal in the Senate on a $1 trillion roads-and-bridges bill, he and Pelosi have vowed to bring it to a vote in the House at the same time as a $3.5 trillion party-line reconciliation bill. Pelosi’s move on Tuesday blows up that strategy, and progressives are furious.
“I strongly urge my House colleagues to vote against the bipartisan infrastructure bill until Congress passes a strong reconciliation bill,” the independent senator from Vermont wrote on Twitter.
By calling on House progressives to vote against the basic package until the Human Infrastructure Plan passes the Senate through budget reconciliation, Sanders took the lead among progressive senators in urging Democrats’ left wing in the House to hold firm and play hardball with the speaker. The stakes are huge, because if Democrats only succeed in passing one, they will leave much of Biden’s agenda unpassed, with midterm elections looming in a little over a year.
For months, progressives have said that they would torpedo any movement on the bipartisan package that comes without the reconciliation bill. Now that Democratic leaders seem to be doing just that, progressives are digging in.
Sanders is one of several to throw cold water on a standalone bipartisan infrastructure bill. Other progressives are also upset at Pelosi’s move. Sen. Elizabeth Warren told reporters that “we had a deal,” implying that Pelosi was backtracking on an agreement to hold joint votes.
And Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the House Progressive Caucus, said in a statement: “We articulated this position more than three months ago, and today it is still unchanged: progressives will vote for both bills, but a majority of our members will only vote for the infrastructure bill after the President’s visionary Build Back Better Act passes.”
Not every Senate Democrat was upset with Pelosi. “I trust Speaker Pelosi, she’s the best speaker in my lifetime and I don’t give her advice,” Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, chair of the Senate Banking Committee, told Insider.
Others were still in favor of linking the bills together. “We need to make sure and have confidence that both measures” are traveling in tandem, Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland told Insider.
The Democratic disarray over a decoupled vote
Pelosi is reversing herself from a position she laid out in June linking the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill to the Senate approving a larger social spending bill in the fall. Now Pelosi plans to hold a vote on the former with the latter far from materializing into a piece of legislation.
Biden also said the two would move in tandem, although he later walked back his comments that implied he’d veto a solo bipartisan bill.
The debate over the decoupling is the latest entry in the increasingly messy ongoing intra-Democrat debate about how to move forward on infrastructure. Prominent moderates like Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema want the proposed $3.5 trillion in reconciliation spending to be pared down. Manchin has said he wants a “pause” on that larger package.
Meanwhile, in the background looms a potential government shutdown and a debt default, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rejecting Democrats’ request to raise the debt ceiling on their own.
Sanders reiterated that a deal had been struck between House and Senate Democrats on how the basic package would pass the lower chamber as long as senators pushed the more comprehensive version through by using filibuster-proof budget reconciliation.
“Let’s be crystal clear,” Sanders tweeted, using one of his signature phrases. “If the bipartisan infrastructure bill is passed on its own on Thursday, this will be in violation of an agreement that was reached within the Democratic Caucus in Congress.”
“More importantly, it will end all leverage that we have to pass a major reconciliation bill,” he continued. “That means there will be no serious effort to address the long-neglected crises facing the working families of our country, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor.”
Pelosi responded to Sanders’ comments on Tuesday. “Everybody has to do what they have to do and I respect that,” she told reporters.
Nearly 40 lawmakers are calling on the Department of Labor to track unpaid internships and help crack down on internship violations.
Congressional leaders from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Rep. Ayanna Pressley signed on to a letter organized by Rep. Tony Cárdenas of California and activist group Pay Our Interns. The letter calls on the DOL to enact more reporting requirements around unpaid internships and track them, as well as collect data on intern pay. It’s a push to both create greater equity by curbing unpaid positions, and to understand the role that unpaid (and paid) internships play in the economy.
The lawmakers are also calling on the agency to look into ways to more extensively monitor potential unpaid internship violations, and create an awareness campaign on intern rights. The gist of the letter, according to Carlos Mark Vera, the executive director of Pay Our Interns (POI), is “it’s time for them to take a more hands-on role when it comes to the internship economy.”
Unpaid internships hurt workplace equity efforts
Unpaid internships have emerged as one flashpoint during broader discussions of inequality throughout the past year.
Often seen as a way to get into the door of professional opportunities, unpaid internships can favor those who are able to work without pay – or have access to outside funding and resources. That can exacerbate income inequality, and worsen preexisting wealth gaps. A 2019 analysis from National Association of Colleges and Employers found that students of color were more likely to have unpaid internships; the same was true for female students. A 2016 analysis from Money found that unpaid internships can cost interns $6,000.
“Data shows that internships are increasingly needed for students to learn the skill sets and build the networks they need to reach long-term career goals,” Cárdenas said in a statement. “When internships are unpaid, low-income students, especially those of color, are barred from those opportunities.”
Cárdenas called the system “fundamentally unfair,” and said that more data can help make sure that “federal agencies leverage internships to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the workforce.”
More recently, there’s been a political (and, in some cases, bipartisan) appetite to address unpaid roles – an initiative that POI, founded in 2016, has been continually pushing for. In December 2020, the group organized former White House interns to call on then-President-elect Joe Biden to make the position paid. In July 2021, the Biden administration presented a budget request that would fund White House internships.
“Compensating interns is aligned with the Administration’s priority of advancing equity, removing barriers to equal opportunity, and attracting top talent that draws from the full diversity of the Nation,” a White House official said in a statement to Insider at the time.
Biden also signed an executive order in June that called on the federal government to reduce its reliance on unpaid internships. Now, if the DOL push is successful, the government could provide more oversight, tracking, and awareness for those positions. It’s something that would have repercussions beyond just people interning or planning on interning.
“During recessions or this pandemic, the trend that we find, that started in 2008, was you started seeing less paid internships, more unpaid internships, and then employers replacing entry-level jobs with unpaid internships,” Vera said. “So we should all care about limiting how many unpaid internships are in this country, because it ends up impacting everyone.”