Not that Americans are ever reminded, in the quest to convince the country that Democrats have a consensus in ramming through their radical agenda, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has a slim 8 seat margin in the U.S. House of Representatives — the balance in the Senate is even more razor-thin, requiring Vice President Kamala Harris, who is officially the Senate president with authority to cast a tie-breaking vote, to give Democrats a majority on one.
All of which may explain the perception that Pelosi is being controlled by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and her merry band of socialist lawmakers, many of whom call themselves progressives. And with an unprecedented $3.5 trillion grab bag of progressive goodies at stake, this cabal knows that it’s as close as it may ever be to realizing many of its goals and is pressing its advantage to create a showdown within the party.
On Sunday, Pelosi appeared on ABC’s “This Week” to vow that she will pass the $1 trillion infrastructure plan this week, prompting the 96-member Congressional Progressive Caucus to bark back that the only way that will happen is if the House also passes President Biden’s multi-trillion dollar Build Back Better reconciliation package.
U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wa., the Congressional Progressive Caucus chair, released a statement that amounts to the mother of all ironies, saying they “will not leave anyone behind” — this being the same party that left hundreds of Americans behind in Afghanistan.
“We remain fully committed to passing President Biden’s entire Build Back Better agenda and delivering the transformative change that people throughout this country urgently want, need, and deserve,” Jayapal said in the release. “Moving forward without the Build Back Better Act would put long-overdue investments in child care, paid leave, health care, affordable housing, pre-k, community college, climate action, and a roadmap to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS recipients, and essential workers at risk. Our Progressive Caucus members remain clear: we will not allow this process to be dictated by special interests and corporations at the expense of women, working families, and our communities. We will not leave anyone behind.”
“This agenda is not some fringe wish list: it is the President’s agenda, the Democratic agenda, and what we all promised voters when they delivered us the House, Senate, and White House. It is supported by nearly every Democrat in Congress and is overwhelmingly backed by the American people. It was committed to in a deal among Senators when they passed the infrastructure bill in that chamber — a commitment reiterated just last week,” she continued. “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.”
“We just wrapped a meeting of our 96-member Caucus, and we are clear: our position on infrastructure and Build Back Better remains unchanged. We will not leave anyone behind,” the caucus reiterated, in sharing the statement on Twitter.
We just wrapped a meeting of our 96-member Caucus, and we are clear: our position on infrastructure and Build Back Better remains unchanged.
We will not leave anyone behind. pic.twitter.com/ffJ8IUuKEE
— Progressive Caucus (@USProgressives) September 28, 2021
Pelosi initially supported passing the infrastructure bill with the reconciliation package, but reportedly changed her stance after realizing that Democrats could reduce the $3.5 trillion price tag.
The dean of the progressive movement, self-avowed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-Vt.), urged House Democrats on Tuesday to vote against the infrastructure bill until Congress approves the reconciliation package, saying to do otherwise would 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. 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.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) September 28, 2021
I strongly urge my House colleagues to vote against the bipartisan infrastructure bill until Congress passes a strong reconciliation bill.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) September 28, 2021
Sanders’ protégé, Ocasio-Cortez, has already let it be known that she would gladly tank the infrastructure bill if they don’t get want they want.
Rep. AOC is a NO on infrastructure without reconciliation.
“Nothing would give me more pleasure than to tank a billionaire, dark money, fossil fuel, Exxon lobbyist-drafted ‘energy’ infrastructure bill if they come after our child care and climate priorities.”
Video via source: pic.twitter.com/ZR2nGP58BM
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) September 9, 2021
Meanwhile, in the Senate, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona remain an obstacle for the party with their concerns about the legislation.
On Tuesday, President Biden met with the moderate Democrats “in a bid to reach terms on a pared-back version,” Fox News reported. While the details of the meeting are unknown, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden felt the discussion was “constructive.”
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