Former North Carolina state Senator, Erica Smith, the one progressive in the open-seat election to replace Republican Richard Burr in the U.S. Senate, called on congressional Democrats to Hold The Line going into tomorrow's vote on the conservative infrastructure bill passed under dubious circumstances in the Senate. Like Bernie, Erica smells a rat. She penned this guest post for us this morning standing with the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Senate Democrats who have said there should be no retreating on the agreement cut between progressives and reactionaries inside the Democratic Party on passing both aspects of the Build Back Better proposal.
Bernie put it like this: "Let’s be crystal clear. If the bipartisan infrastructure bill is passed on its own on Thursday, this will be in violation of an agreement that was reached within the Democratic Caucus in Congress. More importantly, it will end all leverage that we have to pass a major reconciliation bill. That means there will be no serious effort to address the long-neglected crises facing the working families of our country, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor. It also means that Congress will continue to ignore the existential threat to our country and planet with regard to climate change. I strongly urge my House colleagues to vote against the bipartisan infrastructure bill until Congress passes a strong reconciliation bill." I urge you to read Erica's thoughts on this below and then consider contributing to her campaign by clicking on the ActBlue 2022 Senate thermometer on the left.
An Open Letter to Democrats in Congress from a Swing State Candidate: HOLD THE LINE
-by Erica Smith
I'm a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in the critical battleground state of North Carolina. If we don't pass the historic and widely popular reconciliation bill, we'll have a significantly harder time winning in 2022. Voters gave us the White House & Congress. It's time to deliver. When I'm in the U.S. Senate, you won't have to worry about how Manchin or Sinema may vote because I'll be that 51st vote on bold, progressive legislation every single time. Just like I'm sure Lucas Kunce (D-MO), Morgan Harper (D-OH) and Alan Grayson (D-FL) would be.
When the bipartisan infrastructure agreement was first reached, President Biden made it clear that he viewed this agreement and the larger reconciliation package as tied together. We cannot allow Senator Sinema, Senator Manchin, and a handful of conservative House Democrats to derail what could be one of the most consequential pieces of legislation for working families to pass through Congress in a generation. We cannot turn our backs on the bold mandate for change that the American people gave when giving Democrats full control of the Whitehouse and Congress. Bipartisanship is fine, but the goal should never be solely to pass legislation that's sponsored by Democrats and Republicans, it should be to pass legislation that can transform people's lives for the better.
If, despite having control of Congress and the Presidency, we fail to do that, as someone who's spent the past eight months traveling to every corner of a battleground state trust me, there will be a steep price to pay.
Despite what Republicans and certain conservative Democrats have said, the relief provided by the American Rescue Plan, while it's helped, has still left a lot of folks struggling just to get by. The historic $3.5 trillion (spread out over 10 years) reconciliation package is about addressing the fundamental crises that are facing our nation. Crises that existed before COVID and have only grown worse over the past 18 months. Crises that are felt in the day to day lives of so many folks I've met as I've travelled to all 100 counties in North Carolina.
The poor, the working poor, and the barely middle class are on the frontlines of our broken healthcare system, our rigged economy, and the climate crisis. They've been promised bold action that will transform their lives.
If we don't show up for them now, how can we in good faith ask them to show up for us on election day in 2022?
We need to prove that Democrats deliver for working people. We need to show that when we're in power we actually improve the day to day lives of folks in tangible ways. This bold and historic agenda is something I can run on! Caving to a handful of corporate funded conservatives is something I'll have to spend the entire cycle running away from.
The conservative Democrats who are holding out on supporting the reconciliation package are tanking the Biden agenda, our best chance in a generation to transform the lives of families, young people, and working folks, as well as our chance at any success in the 2022 midterms.
The stimulus checks helped. The expanded child tax credit was a monumental achievement, lifting millions of children out of poverty, but we need to do more, we need to rise ever higher if we are going to truly meet this moment.
The folks calling for the hard infrastructure bill to pass alone are only doing so because they care more about their corporate donors than their constituents. I'm sure the people of West Virginia and Arizona need broadband and childcare just as much as the people of North Carolina do.
This is not a matter of concerned representatives negotiating in good faith while trying to improve a piece of legislation. Manchin, Sinema, and the handful of House members who're standing with them don't know what they want, they just know that they don't want to see the rich pay their fair share or our Government invest a fraction of what we spent in Afghanistan right here at home.
We cannot wait any longer to expand Medicare to cover dental and hearing and to lower the eligibility age to 65. We cannot wait any longer for Universal Pre-K & a child care benefit for working families, for paid family leave, tuition free community college, reliable broadband, or affordable prescription drug prices.
It's unfathomable that while the climate crisis is claiming lives across my state and all over the country, our Government would consider pressing "pause" on the bold and comprehensive climate action that is in this reconciliation package. I said it in DC while protesting with Sunrise Movement and I'll say it again now, no climate, no deal!
We cannot abandon this package. If we fail to pass this package now, we will lose power, and by the time we get it back, it'll be too late to address climate catastrophe in any meaningful way.
For the people we love, for the air we breathe and the water we drink, for the place we call home, hold the line.
Because we cannot pave new roads without an investment in electric vehicles to drive on those roads, hold the line.
Because we cannot renovate our schools if no one can afford to attend them, hold the line.
As Senator Sanders has said, because we cannot build new bridges just so people can live under them, hold the line.
For the women who are in the same position I was in twenty years ago, a single mother trying to support her family while finding childcare unaffordable, hold the line.
For the young people who are being forced to choose, just like I was, between the rural communities they love and pursuing their dreams because of insufficient broadband, hold the line.
For the working folks, Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ communities, and young people who organized like never before to deliver 81,000,000 votes to Joe Biden, hold the line.
While the entire Republican party and a small handful of conservative Democrats are being paid by corporations, by Big Pharma, and by Big Oil, to sabotage President Biden's agenda, progressive's are holding the line for working people and giving us a fighting chance heading into these midterm elections that are just around the corner.
Thank you to every single member of Congress who’s holding the line. 81,000,000 people voted for the agenda that you’re fighting for. We're all depending on you.
Hold the line.