Progressives Call for Major Push on Biden’s $3.5 Trillion Bill
(Bloomberg) -- Progressive groups are calling for major lobbying efforts in support of President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending plan, demanding that Democratic lawmakers avoid compromise as the measure faces a reckoning in Congress.
“All eyes are on the reconciliation bill and progressives need to up their game,” a group of 11 organizations wrote in a letter released on Friday. “We are in a powerful, but precarious place — we passed the budget resolution with all our progressive priorities still on the table, but still have a race to the finish line as major corporations invest millions in a major lobbying blitz.”
Their quest took on new urgency after Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, announced his desire for a “strategic pause” in action on Biden’s economic agenda.
The organizations that signed the letter include Justice Democrats, the group that backed Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and other progressive House members, and the climate- change-focused Sunrise Movement.
Democrats intend to push the Biden economic plan through the evenly-divided Senate this fall through a process called reconciliation, so it can be passed without Republican support.
Manchin and other moderates could derail that timetable. He said at an event in West Virginia on Wednesday and in a Thursday Wall Street Journal op-ed that rising inflation and a soaring national debt require a go-slow approach and a “significantly” smaller plan than the one Democratic leaders and the White House have endorsed.
Manchin also called on the House to pass within a few weeks a Senate-passed $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill.
House progressives have pledged to vote against the infrastructure package that the chamber’s leaders hope to pass by the end of September if the separate $3.5 trillion measure is not taken up at the same time.
The letter from the progressive groups calls for lawmakers to hold firm and vote against the infrastructure bill until the reconciliation package is passed in both chambers.
“As proven in the days before the budget resolution passed, we can expect conservative Democrats to continue to be a problem,” the group of organizations wrote in the letter. “We must continually call their bluff on the specific programs they are unwilling to deliver for the American people, rather than allowing them to get away with vague concerns about spending”
The group also asks lawmakers in negotiations with the Congressional leadership to insist on keeping progressive priorities in the reconciliation package and to begin work on committee and floor amendments immediately.
“This is a winnable fight, but it will take strong alignment, sharp interventions, and bold negotiations to get our progressive priorities across the finish line,” the organizations wrote.
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