Progressives Say They Won’t Give Up Priorities in Spending Plan
(Bloomberg) -- Progressive Democrats said they want to keep all of their priorities in a compromise tax and spending bill after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested some in the party were willing to jettison parts of their agenda to get the package passed.
Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal said that instead of cutting provisions, progressives would be open to making them effective for a shorter length of time.
“What the progressive caucus, would like to have is not some false choice of just doing a couple of things and pitting communities against each other and leaving people behind, but actually reducing the number of years slightly if we need to,” Jayapal said during a press call Tuesday.
Democrats are working to shrink a $3.5 trillion package down to about $2 trillion, because of opposition from Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Manchin said he would support a measure closer to $1.5 trillion, but progressives wanted a larger package to include all of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda.
During the press call Tuesday, Jayapal along with Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey and Alex Padilla doubled down on the priorities they want addressed in the plan, including child care, housing, climate change, lowering prescription drug costs, immigration and Medicare expansion.
Manchin has expressed opposition to expanding Medicare, but Sanders said provisions to expand the program to include dental, vision and hearing care are “not negotiable.” Jayapal said the Progressive Caucus shares Sanders’ stance.
The progressives said that Manchin and Sinema have yet to come forward with a formal counter-proposal, making it difficult to move forward in negotiations. Sanders said the time is “long overdue” for Manchin and Sinema to let Democrats know what they want to cut from the bill.
Jayapal used the internal Democratic battle in a fundraising appeal, asking, “why is Speaker Pelosi suggesting we should allow a couple of conservative Democrats to leave behind popular cornerstone policies of the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act? We need to deliver.”
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