According to the PunchBowl News crew early this morning, the hard transportation bill passed last night-- a complete cave by the progressives who allowed it to be de-coupled from the social spending bill that conservative Democrats will now whittle down to nothing without batting an eye-- because of the efforts of the House leadership team, primarily octogenarians Pelosi, Hoyer (charged with rounding up Republican votes to counter progressives who could not be sold this absurd bill of goods that neither Manchin nor Sinema was a party to and are not bound by) and Clyburn (with uber-corrupt henchman Joyce Beatty), plus 3 important progressives who acted as Judas goats: Katherine Clark (MA), David Cicilline (RI) and Jamie Raskin (MD). This is the statement that binds the conservative Democrats in the House (but not the Senate):
Just 6 Democrats voted against the bill, sticking to their pledge to not vote for it as a stand-alone, only as part of a package that included the social infrastructure bill conservatives oppose. Many people think with the progressives' leverage now tanked, progressives will never get the social infrastructure bill, or at least not one worth much of anything. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) told his constituents that his "top priority remains enacting the Build Back Better Act, which contains the vast majority of President Biden’s broadly-popular agenda. Thanks to the leadership of House Progressives, we are closer than ever to doing exactly that. Tonight my conservative Democratic colleagues gave me, and the nation, their word that they will vote for the Build Back Better Act no later than the week of November 15. For the first time, this small handful of conservative Democrats committed to supporting bold climate action, an expansion of Medicare to include hearing coverage, a lift of the cap on State and Local Tax deductions that has unjustly burdened working families in my district and communities like mine across the country, and universal child care for working families, which I am proud to have helped secure in this bill. I look forward to my colleagues making good on their promises as quickly as possible, so that we can pass the Build Back Better Act and begin delivering the life-changing investment working- and middle-class families across our nation need and deserve."
In a statement issued last night, Varshini Prakash, executive director of Sunrise Movement, said that "We're proud of the Squad for being courageous and standing up for what's right tonight. It's bullshit that President Biden and Speaker Pelosi rammed through a bill written by a bunch of corporations but feel fine to hold off on passing Biden's own agenda, a popular bill that would actually combat climate change and help working people. To be clear, the BIF is not a climate bill and the stakes of the climate crisis are too high to delay reconciliation any longer, or worse, let it die along with our futures."
Six progressives-- AOC, Ilhan, Jamaal, Ayanna, Rashida and Cori-- did not take the conservatives' at their word. Would you have? I asked some of the Blue America-endorsed candidates what they would have done last night. If you like any of their answers, please contribute $27-- or any amount-- to their campaigns at this link.
Jason Call (WA): "The Gang of Six did the right thing. I would have stood with them.The corporatists do not negotiate in good faith, ever. Progressives should have walked away from any bill cuts after they stated that $3.5T was the compromise. Unfortunately they immediately started backpedaling on what would be further acceptable cuts and it’s absolutely no surprise to me that we ended up exactly where we are. At some point you have to take a stand and walk away. For me, the biggest point of contention is the climate action provisions. There is no ban on fracking, no ban on new drilling leases, no ban on fossil fuel subsidies and to boot the whole climate package at $55bn annually over 10 years is a mere 7% of the US military budget (7% of today’s budget, which will almost certainly continue to grow over the course of the next decade). So it’s all performative, if we can’t do the basics of stopping expansion of fossil fuel extraction and reducing military spending (the US military is the world’s most polluting non-state entity). If this insufficient bill passed, it will fairly well kill immediate future efforts for climate action because the corporatist will be able to say “climate? We already did that!” I’ve been here long enough to know that this is how it goes. Glad the Gang of Six held firm. Disappointed in Progressive Caucus leadership cheerleading for an absentee president and then caving under pressure. It’s not what’s going to secure our future. The Progressive Caucus is a mess. We need to expand the number of actual progressives in Congress, and we need to vote as a bloc against the corruption of the corporatist ownership of both parties.
Christine Olivo (FL): "A voter in my district wrote to me and said that she will no longer support a progressive running for office. She said that Biden needed this win and the progressives almost ruined it for him. I kindly replied that the people needed this win. This is not about boosting our President’s popularity ratings. This is about saving lives and saving our planet. We must get to a place as a society where we stop accepting mediocre legislation. We must also get to a place where we can acknowledge the courage it takes to stand firm in your beliefs even if you’re standing alone."
Alexandra Hunt (PA): "I think it takes courage to take that sort of stand. This move was designed to target the Squad and point a finger at them as the source of the people’s problems. “Look at these six problematic representatives who don’t care about passing good legislation” is the dialogue conservatives are trying to stir up. That is not the case and I believe it’s a move to undermine the Squad's power and reduce their resources since the Squad relies on popular favor of the public to fund their campaigns. I would’ve stood with those six, seen through this tactic, and I hope the American people can too."
Chris Preece (IN): "Americans, and Democrats, need a win. Getting money for traditional infrastructure will get more people to work, repair failing infrastructure, and lay the ground for new and improved infrastructure. Does this bill go far enough, no. Governing is not about getting everything you want, it is the art of compromise, which is not pretty. Democrats need to show that they can work with the GOP, which is what Biden ran on, and what the American people want. We are tired of the polarization and divisiveness, as it continues to grow. So, it is important to show the people that Democrats can work across the aisle while in power. Improve the lives of the American people in any way you can, and continue pushing for them. Take the win today."
Shervin Aazami (CA): "I think Mike Siegel was the first to say that progressives are fighting harder for Biden’s agenda than Biden himself. To all the detractors who think the left is squandering Biden’s agenda I ask them this-- which members of Congress are taking max donations from industry CEOs and corporate tycoons to kill the climate provisions in Biden’s agenda? Which members killed wildly popular drug pricing reform because they’re bankrolled by the pharmaceutical industry? Which members have been fighting tooth and nail to strip out tax increases on corporations and billionaires to cover the cost of the reconciliation package while they decry 'deficit spending?' Here’s the reality. If Democrats do not meaningfully improve the lives of millions of working families with popular programs like universal child care, paid family leave, public housing, and so forth then we will barrel towards a Republican onslaught in 2022 and Trumpism in 2024. We have seen the BBB turn into a shell of what it was not because of what the American people want, but because of what obstructionists and corporatists in the Democrat’s own ranks want. That’s why I would hold the line with progressives. If we can’t enact structural reform after a pandemic that has decimated the lives of millions, then when is the right time?"
Julie Oliver (TX): "I'm disappointed that Democrats failed to deliver on the most ambitious investment in people and infrastructure since the New Deal. And I'm definitely disappointed that more progressives from the CPC didn't join the six Democrats who know that the moderates in the caucus are like Lucy from Peanuts-- she'll yank that football out from under Charlie Brown without fail every time. AOC, Ilhan, Jamaal, Rashida and Cori know this, and they know that the leverage they had to pass the BBB plan is now gone. So we shouldn't be surprised when Republicans sweep the US House in the midterms next year. If we can't deliver for everyday people and not corporations or the ridiculously wealthy, then folks will have no reason to show up next November for us."
Mike Ortega (CA): "We can never take the elected officials who are in beholden to corporations at their word. Power concedes nothing without a demand. If our movement was fortunate enough to be in D.C. today, we would not have given away our only chip with nothing to show. We would not have caved. Furthermore, when it came time to vote for BBB-- if we were to vote on anything this small-- we would demand executive orders from the President to get rid of more student debt, de-schedule marijuana, provide amnesty for our undocumented neighbors, provide Medicare the ability to negotiate prescription drug prices-- all of which can be done with the stroke of Joe Biden’s pen. But we’re not there on Capitol Hill today, and I’m seeing those involved are being praised all over the place. But our movement isn’t fooled-- we know we have to keep fighting."
Sergio Alcubilla (HI): "I know that last night's vote is being hailed as a victory for the Democratic party but I cannot celebrate. The real winners last night are the corporate interests who have gained the upper hand in delaying the social infrastructure bill, separating it from the hard infrastructure bill, and will now have the time to pick it apart further. The plan was for both of them to go hand in hand but now we must trust the promises of politicians like our own Rep. Ed Case, who has shown these last few weeks he is willing to go to great lengths to protect the interests of his wealthy and corporate donors. Like many Americans, I have a hard time believing in the promises of politicians who are funded by corporate donors. I admire our six progressive legislators who understood what was really happening and could not give in. They took a stand for our working families, for our seniors, for our environment. They did not spin this as a victory because they knew it was the American people that would lose out on the promises of the Build Back Better agenda. This is the type of leadership we need in Congress, people willing to take a stand, willing to fight for the best interests of everyday people and not sell us out to corporate interests. They need more people to stand with them. In Congress, I will stand with them just as I have stood for our working families and our most vulnerable throughout my career. As the saying goes, 'If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.'"