Ocasio-Cortez was one of six House Democrats who voted ‘no’ on the bipartisan infrastructure bill
U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks during a news conference discussing the introduction of rent legislation outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 21, 2021. (REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz) (Reuters Photos)
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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is concerned President Biden’s massive social spending bill will be gutted in the coming days after the left wing of the Democratic Party gave up its “leverage” by joining moderates and voting in favor of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, her office said in a letter to constituents.
Ocasio-Cortez was one of six House Democrats, all members of the “Squad” of influential progressives, who voted “no” on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which will be signed into law this week. The six hardline progressives balked after Democratic leaders reneged on a pledge to bring up both the infrastructure bill and the spending bill for votes at the same time.
In a letter to her constituents in New York’s 14th congressional district, Ocasio-Cortez’s representatives said she felt Congress may have “jeopardized immigration reform, funding for NYCHA and any chance to meaningfully address climate change” by failing to pass both bills together.
“The Congresswoman stuck to her word and voted against the infrastructure bill, in order to try to keep these two bills tied together,” the letter said. “She was always prepared to vote for the infrastructure bill alongside BBB, but she could not support the infrastructure bill on its own and risk losing our only leverage for policies in the BBB that NY-14 so badly needs.”
The $1.75 trillion framework agreement for Biden’s social spending bill includes many initiatives championed by progressives, including more than $500 billion toward climate action, expanded education and paid leave. But the proposed legislation’s steep cost has drawn skepticism from moderate Democrats in both houses of Congress, including key roadblock Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus agreed to vote in favor of the infrastructure bill after a group of House moderates pledged to vote for the social spending bill as it is currently written no later than the week of Nov. 15. The House voted to adopt the “rule” governing the reconciliation process for the spending bill last week in a procedural step that precedes a final vote on the bill itself.
The infrastructure bill was a key bargaining chip for Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives, who have long warned that moderates would push for a watered-down version of the spending bill once their priority legislation passed.
“The President and House leadership has promised that [Build Back Better] will still pass,” the letter from Ocasio-Cortez’s office added. “We hope they’re right, but how much of the bill survives now that we’ve given away so much leverage is the question.”