AOC on Sinema blocking $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill: ‘Good luck tanking your own party’s investment’

AOC
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on Monday, August 24, 2020.

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter after Sen. Krysten Sinema came out against $3.5 trillion in Democratic infrastructure spending.
  • The New York congressman criticized moderate Sinema for “tanking” investment in childcare and climate action.
  • Ocasio-Cortez previously called the $3.5 trillion deal a “progressive victory.”
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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took aim at Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, a fellow Democrat, after Sinema came out against her party’s $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill.

Sinema told the Arizona Republic in a statement that she thinks the bill is too costly, and “will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration to strengthen Arizona’s economy and help Arizona’s everyday families get ahead.”

Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to call out the Arizona Democrat, writing: “Good luck tanking your own party’s investment on childcare, climate action, and infrastructure while presuming you’ll survive a 3 vote House margin – especially after choosing to exclude members of color from negotiations and calling that a ‘bipartisan accomplishment.'”

Ocasio-Cortez previously criticized the lack of diversity in the bipartisan group, arguing that it leaves marginalized communities behind.

Sinema is a key moderate for the Democrats, and a main negotiator in the bipartisan infrastructure deal. A group of Republican senators said earlier today that they had reached a bipartisan deal with the White House. That deal cut $30 billion from the new spending proposed, lowering funding for public transit and slashing an infrastructure bank meant to foster private and public partnership. Sinema’s opposition will force Senate Democrats to make cuts from the $3.5 trillion agreement they struck earlier this month. It will need all 50 Democrats in the Senate to stick together so it clears the arduous reconciliation process.

AOC is not the only progressive sounding off on the prospects of a slimmed down Democrat-only spending package. Rep. Mondaire Jones of New York also tweeted: “Without a reconciliation package that meets this moment, I’m a no on this bipartisan deal.”

At the time, the New York congresswoman said that $3.5 trillion agreement was an “enormous victory,” although she would have preferred a larger package.

“This bill is absolutely a progressive victory,” Ocasio-Cortez said, according to reporter Kevin Frey of NY1. “If it wasn’t for progressives in the House, we probably would be stuck with that tiny, pathetic bipartisan bill alone.”

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Nancy Pelosi says the House won’t vote on the bipartisan infrastructure deal until after the Senate passes a larger package

nancy pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

  • Nancy Pelosi says the House won’t vote on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package until the Senate passes a separate $3.5 trillion package.
  • “We all know that more needs to be done,” she offered in an appearance on ABC on Sunday.
  • GOP Senator Rob Portman says Pelosi’s stance contradicts President Biden’s efforts to pass the bipartisan deal.
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On Sunday in separate appearances on ABC, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ohio Senator Rob Portman offered up opposing viewpoints on the timeline of passing a bipartisan infrastructure package.

Pelosi reinforced her stance to hold up the $1 trillion agreement as Democrats work to finalize a separate $3.5 trillion spending package, in hopes that they both get passed together.

“We are rooting for the infrastructure bill to pass, but we all know that more needs to be done,” she said.

During his own interview on ABC, Portman, a Republican and one of the leading negotiators on the bipartisan package, called Pelosi’s stance”entirely counter” to President Joe Biden’s commitment to bipartisan efforts in the House and Senate, adding that $1 trillion infrastructure bill “has nothing to do with the reckless tax-and-spend extravaganza (Pelosi’s) talking about.”

The $1 trillion infrastructure package contains a total of $579 billion in new spending dedicated to increasing broadband connections nationwide as well as updating bridges and roads.

Earlier in the week, however, Republican Senators voted against that same infrastructure bill they’d previously come to an agreement on with the White House, citing concerns over an extra $40 billion in IRS funding.

According to reports from the Wall Street Journal, Senator Lindsay Graham went further by encouraging Republican members to leave DC in efforts to prevent Senate Democrats from having the 51 senators required to operate, which is called a quorum.

If the Democrats are successful, the agreement would total $4.1 trillion in new spending, making it one of the largest spending bills ever advanced by Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion package would pay for social program expansions including Medicare coverage for dental and vision care.

Leading senate negotiators Portman and Mitt Romney said they may be ready to vote on the $1 trillion package on Monday, after disagreements including the $40 billion in IRS spending are ironed out.

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AOC vows progressives will ‘tank’ the bipartisan infrastructure bill if a reconciliation bill including more care-economy and climate change measures isn’t passed in tandem

alexandria ocasio cortez
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

  • Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure deal cut out a number of care-economy measures from his initial plan.
  • AOC said progressive will “tank” the deal if a reconciliation bill isn’t passed at the same time.
  • The reconciliation bill would include more care-economy measures and climate change initiatives.
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After President Joe Biden reached an agreement with a bipartisan group of senators on an infrastructure plan, many Democrats criticized how the deal cut out many care-economy measures, like eldercare and affordable housing.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York doubled down on those criticisms on Thursday, promising that progressives will “tank” the deal unless a separate bill, full of care-economy measures, makes the cut, too.

Senate Democrats announced on Tuesday they had reached such a deal which they hope to pass in tandem with the infrastructure package through a political process known as reconciliation, which just requires a simple majority vote.

“House progressive are standing up…” Ocasio-Cortez said during a town hall. “We will tank the bipartisan infrastructure bill unless we also pass the reconciliation bill.”

On June 24, Biden announced he had reached an agreement on an infrastructure plan with the bipartisan group of senators after weeks of negotiations, ending up with a plan that was just under $1 trillion – cutting over a half of the president’s original price tag. This led many Democrats, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, to say that in order to win their support for the bipartisan deal, a reconciliation bill must be passed alongside it to get needed care-economy measures to the American people.

“There ain’t going to be an infrastructure bill unless we have the reconciliation bill passed by the United States Senate,” Pelosi told reporters at the time.

Biden even said during a press conference after announced the agreement that the infrastructure deal and a reconciliation bill would work “in tandem,” but he later walked back those comments following fierce opposition from Republican lawmakers.

But progressive lawmakers are still pushing for a reconciliation bill that they believe is urgent to meet the needs of the country, including addressing the climate crisis, and their promise to shut down the bipartisan deal if the reconciliation bill isn’t passed at the same time imposes difficulties for the deal’s future.

“If [Senate Dems] try to strip immigration reform, if they try to claw back on child care, climate action, etc., then we’re at an impasse,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It’s a no-go.”

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10 Democrats and 11 Republicans sign onto bipartisan infrastructure deal, but nobody knows what’s in it

biden pittsburg infrastructure plan getty
President Joe Biden unveils part of his infrastructure plan in Pittsburgh on March 31.

  • Eleven Republican senators and ten Democrats issued a statement saying they support a bipartisan infrastructure package.
  • That figure of Republicans could be enough for the skinny plan to clear the chamber, but some Democrats are already against it.
  • Details on the bipartisan framework have been scarce.
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A group of eleven Republican and ten Democratic Senators announced on Wednesday that they supported a bipartisan infrastructure framework.

Sens. Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Chris Coons, Lindsey Graham, Maggie Hassan, John Hickenlooper, Mark Kelly, Angus King, Joe Manchin, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Mitt Romney, Mike Rounds, Jeanne Shaheen, Kyrsten Sinema, Jon Tester, Thom Tillis, Mark Warner, and Todd Young issued a joint statement outlining their support. Senator Jerry Moran threw in his support after the joint statement was issued, bringing the number of Senators who support the package up to 21.

The group is almost evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. That amount of Republicans would be enough to approve the package if every Democrat lined up behind it – an unlikely scenario, given that at least three senators say they’re opposed to its lackluster climate provisions.

None of the details of the package have been made public, though some details have emerged. The framework is concentrated on physical infrastructures like roads and bridges, with limited support for electric charging stations.

In the US Senate Budget Committee, this week, Democrats met to discuss a budget resolution, which would trigger the reconciliation process. That’s a tactic that would allow Democrats to approve the legislation in a party-line vote.

“We have a lot of things we have to do to help the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said as he left the meeting. And we have to have unity to do it and everyone has to listen to one another.”

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Joe Manchin says he’s ‘not a roadblock’ to Biden’s agenda but won’t be a part of ‘blowing up’ the Senate

Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks during a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on the nomination of Rep. Debra Haaland, D-N.M., to be Secretary of the Interior on Capitol Hill in Washington.

  • West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said he’s “not a roadblock” to Biden’s agenda.
  • Manchin, a Democrat, has opposed some of Biden’s policy proposals, including his hike of the corporate tax rate.
  • Manchin has also said he will refuse to weaken or eliminate the filibuster.
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West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, on Sunday said he didn’t believe he was a “roadblock” to President Joe Biden, despite his opposition to parts of the president’s agenda, including his infrastructure plan.

“I’m not a roadblock at all. The best politics is good government,” Manchin said Sunday during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Dana Bash.

Machin said he doesn’t believe legislation should just be pushed through by those in power without debate or bipartisan discussion.

“We won’t give this system a chance to work,” Manchin said. “I’m not going to be part of blowing up this Senate of ours, or basically this democracy of ours, or the republic that we have.”

Manchin and Arizona Sen. Krysten Simena, also a Democrat, were praised last week by South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham, a Republican, for their opposition to eliminating the filibuster in the Senate.

“The House wasn’t designed to be partisan. The House was designed to be hot as a cracker,” Manchin added. “We were designed to cool it off.”

Democrats and Republicans hold an even 50-50 split in the Senate, but Vice President Kamala Harris serves as the tie-breaking vote, giving Democrats a slight lead. But Republicans can still torpedo any legislation they dislike by using the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to bring a debate to an end.

In an April 7 op-ed in the Washington Post, Manchin said he would not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster, reaffirming his previous position.

“There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” he wrote. “The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.”

Manchin was also one of eight Democrats who voted against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposal that would’ve raised the federal minimum wage to $15. All Democrats in the Senate would’ve needed to vote in favor of the proposal for it to have passed.

Earlier in April, Manchin said he opposed some of Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan, specifically his proposal to raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. Manchin said he believed the tax should be set in between at 25%.

“The bill, basically, is not going to end up that way,” Manchin said during an appearance on a West Virginia radio station. “If I don’t vote to get on it, it’s not going anywhere. So we’re going to have some leverage here.”

Manchin on Sunday told CNN he would support a smaller bill with a “more targeted” approach to infrastructure.

“Why can’t we try to make this work?” he asked. “If you have the violent swings every time you have a party change, then we will have no consistency whatsoever.”

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Biden says he’s ‘prepared to compromise’ on infrastructure plan during meeting with bipartisan group of lawmakers

Biden
President Joe Biden has framed his infrastructure plan as a means of strengthening democracy and undermining autocracy.

  • Biden met with a group of bipartisan lawmakers Monday to discuss his $2 trillion infrastructure bill.
  • He told reporters before the meeting that he was “prepared to compromise” on the legislation.
  • The GOP has argued much of the spending is directed toward nontraditional infrastructure.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden told a bipartisan group of lawmakers Monday that he’s “prepared to compromise” on his administration’s $2 trillion nontraditional infrastructure plan.

Ahead of a White House meeting with both Democratic and Republican members of Congress, the president told reporters he’s willing to compromise on both what’s included in the package as well as how to pay for the landmark piece of legislation.

Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg met with the bipartisan group of lawmakers, all of whom have previously served as mayor or governor, in an effort to garner support for the American Jobs Plan that Republicans have rebuked since it was announced last month.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, a Democrat, told ABC News reporter Trish Turner in a pool report that the meeting was “just an initial discussion,” though she said she thought it was a “good discussion” and was impressed with what lawmakers in the room had to say and how Biden responded.

Shaheen said the group discussed possible options for “pay-fors,” or offset savings found from other government programs, to pay for the proposed legislation.

“We talked about an infrastructure bank, we talked about bonding, we talked about user fees. A whole range of things,” Shaheen told Turner following the meeting.

When asked if Biden seemed committed to a bipartisan bill even if it’s smaller, Shaheen said, “he seemed open to discussing a whole range of things.”

The administration has indicated it’s more open to negotiation on the infrastructure bill than it was on Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill passed earlier this year, according to PBS News, though the White House has also signaled that the president is willing to forgo bipartisanship if doing so proves necessary to pass the legislation.

The president’s openness to cooperation with the GOP could put Republicans in a difficult position if they refuse to compromise on the nontraditional elements of the bill that are popular among American voters.

Republicans have condemned the bill primarily due to its inclusion of items that aren’t physical or traditional infrastructure, like support for home health care workers, strengthening broadband and water services, and clean energy tax credits. The GOP has falsely claimed that only 6% of the bill’s spending goes to rebuilding roads and bridges, though a Bank of America team calculated the real number is closer to half.

Following the meeting, Biden tweeted a photo of himself and fellow lawmakers discussing the bill in the Oval Office.

“I’m confident that together, we’ll be able to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure,” Biden tweeted.

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Biden meets with bipartisan group on $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, saying he’s open to negotiate

Joe Biden Oval Office
President Joe Biden.

  • Biden held his first official meeting with eight bipartisan lawmakers to discuss infrastructure.
  • He told reporters that he is willing to negotiate on both the size and the scope of his plan.
  • Republican lawmakers argue his plan is too focused on things aside from physical infrastructure.
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For the first time since unveiling his $2.3 trillion infrastructure package two weeks ago, President Joe Biden met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Monday to discuss the proposal.

Eight lawmakers, including Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate, Science, and Transportation Maria Cantwell, ranking member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Sam Graves, and Rep. Don Young of Alaska, joined Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in the Oval Office to kick off bipartisan discussions.

“I’m prepared to negotiate as to the extent of my infrastructure package, as well as how we pay for it,” Biden told reporters after the meeting.

He also dismissed the idea that the meeting was just “window dressing,” and said he was “prepared to negotiate as to the extent of the infrastructure project as well as how we pay for it,” citing broadband and clean-water access as important parts of his definition of infrastructure.

This meeting followed a press briefing earlier in the day, when White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden is “absolutely” willing to negotiate on the size and scope of the package.

With regard to scope, Republican lawmakers have argued that it’s too focused on things besides rebuilding physical infrastructure, like roads and bridges. For example, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement two weeks ago that while Biden could have drafted a “serious, targeted infrastructure plan” that would have received bipartisan support, “the latest liberal wish-list the White House has decided to label ‘infrastructure’ is a major missed opportunity by this Administration.”

And with regards to the size of the plan, Republican lawmakers have said the $2.3 trillion price tag, along with Biden’s proposed tax hikes, are too high.

Ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Roger Wicker, who attended the meeting, told ABC News in an interview on Sunday, “We are willing to negotiate with him [Biden] on an infrastructure package, and this trillion-dollar number is way too high for me.”

He added that negotiations on the plan have to look different than the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan that passed in February without any Republican votes.

Some Democrats have said they’d like to see some changes to the package. Moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said on a West Virginia radio talk show last week that he does not support Biden’s proposed corporate tax increase to 28%. “Well, the bill basically is not going to end up that way,” he said.

Psaki emphasized in the Monday press briefing that Biden genuinely wants to work with both parties to create a bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“You don’t use the president of the United States’ time, multiple times over … if you did not want to authentically hear from the members attending about their ideas about how to move forward this package,” she said.

Also in the meeting were Democratic Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. of New Jersey, Republican Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of California, and Democratic Rep. David Price of North Carolina, who all sit on committees relevant to rebuilding infrastructure.

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Senior Democrat caught on hot mic suggests bypassing Republicans on infrastructure

Ben Cardin
Sen. Ben Cardin.

  • Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin was heard suggesting reconciliation for the upcoming infrastructure bill.
  • He cited likely Republican opposition and said the bill will resemble the $1.9 trillion stimulus.
  • Conservatives and moderates have already complained about the prospect of another reconciliation bill.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A senior Democratic senator, Ben Cardin of Maryland, was overheard in a “hot mic” moment saying the next trillion-dollar spending bill will probably have to bypass Republicans once again.

In a moment caught by C-SPAN on Monday, the chair of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure was overheard telling Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg that Democrats will likely have to use reconciliation to pass an infrastructure bill, Politico first reported.

Democrats recently used reconciliation to pass the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” which President Joe Biden signed into law on Thursday. The infrastructure bill could carry an even larger price tag, and Cardin said Democrats will “most likely have to use reconciliation” to pass that one, too.

“Ultimately, it’s going to be put together similar,” Cardin told Buttigieg when speaking about the infrastructure bill. “The Republicans will be with you to a point, and then -” he tailed off, suggesting that GOP backing would taper off as Democrats assemble a large bill.

House Democrats officially began working on an infrastructure package on Friday, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying in a statement that she aims to negotiate with Republicans on the legislative details.

She said it was her hope that bipartisanship would “prevail as we address other critical needs in energy and broadband, education and housing, water systems and other priorities.”

President Joe Biden has already held infrastructure talks with bipartisan groups of lawmakers. On February 11, he met with four bipartisan senators on the topic, and in the beginning of March, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers joined the president to discuss possible funding methods.

After the latter meeting with Biden, Sam Graves, ranking member of the House Committee of Transportation and Infrastructure, criticized the prospect of another party-line procedure.

The next bill “cannot be a ‘my way or the highway’ approach like last Congress,” he said, referring to previous Democratic legislation advanced under Pelosi.

“First and foremost, a highway bill cannot grow into a multitrillion-dollar catch-all bill, or it will lose Republican support,” Graves said. “We have to be responsible, and a bill whose cost is not offset will lose Republican support.”

The Biden administration is reportedly weighing tax increases on wealthy Americans and large corporations to finance at least part of its domestic spending plans. Still, some experts say a significant portion of the legislation could be deficit-financed, citing the low cost of federal borrowing and the nature of infrastructure spending as a one-off investment in the economy.

On the Democratic side of the Senate, the influential moderate Joe Manchin of West Virginia said in an “Axios on HBO” interview that Democrats need to work with Republicans on the next big spending bill.

“I’m not going to do it through reconciliation,” Manchin said. “I am not going to get on a bill that cuts them [Republicans] out completely before we start trying.”

Biden has not yet announced specific funding plans for an infrastructure bill, although his campaign platform included a $2 trillion infrastructure proposal. Manchin has said he could support a bill worth up to $4 trillion, as long as it was paid for adequately.

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