Ocasio-Cortez Warns Progressives Can ‘Tank’ Infrastructure Bill

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she and other House progressives would “tank” a bipartisan infrastructure bill unless Senate Democrats also pass a sweeping tax and spending measure to carry out priorities on climate change and social programs.

“House progressives are standing up,” Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, said Thursday during a virtual town hall event. “We will tank the bipartisan infrastructure bill unless we will also pass the reconciliation bill.”

Ocasio-Cortez and her allies have the means to carry out that threat. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can afford to lose no more than four Democratic votes to get the $579 billion infrastructure plan passed in her chamber.

In a nod to the progressives demands, Pelosi has said she won’t bring the package of spending on roads and bridges and other public works to the House floor until the Senate passes a separate spending bill that’s intended to contain many of the rest of the party’s priorities.

Democrats intend to pass a $3.5 trillion spending bill through a process known as reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority to advance rather than the 60 votes needed for most other legislation. That would bypass any Republican filibuster.

Ocasio-Cortez called the outline of the spending bill agreed to by Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee “absolutely a progressive victory.” But many of the details and specific policies have yet to be spelled out. Democratic leaders still will need to make trade-offs to get all 50 members of their Senate caucus on board and keep their fractious House ranks united.

Some key Democrats have yet to sign on to supporting the budget plan. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has pushed for getting a bipartisan support for an infrastructure bill, said he still needs information on what tax increases are being proposed to fully pay for the plan. Manchin, who represents a coal-producing state, also said that he told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer he has a problem with some fossil fuels provisions in the outline. Climate measures are one of the central demands of the progressives.

“If Manchin, and in the Senate, if they approve our reconciliation bill we will approve their bipartisan bill,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And if they try to strip immigration reform, if they try to, you know, claw back on childcare, climate action, etc., then we’re at an impasse it’s a no go.”

Pelosi said earlier Thursday that the House may “realign” some of the priorities in the package being advanced by Senate Democrats. But that could risk the support from moderate Democrats in both chambers. The party will have to be united to overcome solid Republican opposition.

Schumer has set a Wednesday deadline to complete talks on both the bipartisan infrastructure package and to get an agreement among all Democrats on moving forward on a budget resolution.

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