Progressives Stand Firm on Priorities as Infrastructure Debate Continues

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Liberals have rejected moderate Democrats’ demands to cut President Biden’s domestic policy agenda by more than half, though they said they were willing to compromise.

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After a turbulent week in Congress, during which deep divisions in the Democratic Party delayed the progress of President Biden’s economic agenda, debate raged over the weekend as the party prepared for intense talks in the weeks ahead.


Progressives on Sunday rejected West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin III, a major swing vote for Democrats, the latest demands to slash President Biden’s domestic policy agenda by more than half and insert a provision to ensure That the federal government does not fund abortions. .

Representative Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington and chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said progressives would not agree to reduce Biden’s 10 years, $3.5 trillion social safety net and climate bill to $1.5 trillion, as did Mr Manchin. had requested.

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“It’s not going to happen,” Ms. Jayapal said on “State of the Union” on CNN. “It’s too small to achieve our priorities. It’s going to be somewhere between $1.5 and $3.5, and I think the White House is working on that right now. Remember: What we owe is Child care, paid leave, climate change.

Mr Manchin said in one interview with national review Last week that he was insisting that the law include the Hyde Amendment, which says Medicaid will not pay for abortions unless the woman’s life is in danger or the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

The Hyde Amendment has been reauthorized every year since 1976, but Mr Biden did not include it in his latest budget proposal. During the presidential race, his campaign initially said he supported the amendment, but he later reversed course and denounced it.

Ms Jaipal, one of three members of Congress who testified last week about her personal experiences with abortion, said she opposed Mr Manchin’s demand.

“The Hyde Amendment is something that most of the country doesn’t support,” she said.

However, Ms Jaipal and other progressives said they were willing to settle on the price tag of the package. Several said they were discussing whether to cut certain programs off their agenda altogether or reduce the bill’s funding period from 10 years to five years, for example.

“We can push the benefits and give fewer years,” Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat from California, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Ms Jayapal said progressives were willing to reduce the length of some components of the funding bill to reduce its cost, but needed the new clean energy standards to remain in law for a decade.

“Cutting carbon emissions takes time,” she said.

Debate has raged on Capitol Hill for the past week over Mr Biden’s domestic agenda. The nearly 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus blocked a House vote on his $1 trillion infrastructure bill, backed by the centrist wing of Democrats. More liberal lawmakers sought to take advantage of the president’s safe passage of a $3.5 trillion domestic policy bill, which some centrist Democrats did not support.

With a low majority in both houses of Congress, both bills require nearly every Democratic vote to pass.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democrat and majority leader of New York, have assured the Progressive Caucus that both bills will move forward as part of a “two-track” process.

In a letter to lawmakers on Saturday, Ms Pelosi urged the infrastructure bill to be passed by the end of the month and indicated that Democratic leaders would discuss a broader social policy and climate bill with Manchin and Arizona Senator Kirsten Cinema. The conversation was continued. Two Democratic holdouts that need to be passed legislation in the Senate.

“Again, we will and will soon pass both bills,” Ms Pelosi wrote. “We have the responsibility and the opportunity to do so.”

Ms Cinema issued a statement on Saturday condemning the delay in infrastructure voting, calling it a “failure” and “deeply disappointing for communities across our country”.

“Depriving Americans of millions of well-paid jobs, safe roads, clean water, more reliable electricity and better broadband only hurts everyday families,” she said.

But Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who chairs the budget committee, expressed confidence in the Progressives’ negotiating position, pointing to signs from the White House that his faction is right to push for a more ambitious legislative agenda. Was.

“We’ve got the President of the United States by our side,” Sanders said on “This Week” on ABC on Sunday. “96 percent of the Democratic caucus members in the House got on our side. All we have at this point in the Democratic caucus is two senators. We’re going to win this thing.”

Cedric L., a senior adviser to Mr. Biden. Richmond predicted that both liberals and centrists would have to pay to reach a deal.

“People will be disappointed. People won’t get everything we want,” he said on “Meet the Press” on NBC. “We’re going to fight until we get both bills.”

Speaking on “State of the Union,” Illinois Senator Richard J. Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, agreed that there are some big options ahead.

“We have to ask that very fundamental question,” he said. “Should we do everything in limited amounts, or should we really invest ourselves in the most important things?”

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