A growing number of progressives in the House of Representatives and United States Senate are calling on President Joe Biden to stop trying to negotiate with Republicans, whose only unifying policy message is to say no to his agenda.
“These Democrats say they’re worried that by cutting a deal with the GOP on roads and bridges, they risk losing out on a generational opportunity to expand paid family leave and child tax credits and invest in green energy,” Politico reported on Wednesday of the growing frustration among the left:
Asked if the Biden administration should keep talking to Republicans about a bipartisan infrastructure deal, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) replied: ‘Absolutely not. Because we might lose our coalition for human infrastructure.’ Instead she’s ‘100 percent’ in favor of pushing through a multitrillion-dollar package using the blunt partisan mechanism of budget reconciliation.
‘I do not think that the White House should relegate recovery to the judgment of [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell [R-KY], because he will not function in good faith,’ said Gillibrand, who made her case recently to Bruce Reed, Biden’s deputy chief of staff. ‘So, I just think it’s a terrible political misstep.’
Gillibrand is far from then only Democrat who feels that way. On Tuesday, 59 House Progressives sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) imploring them to go big with a “a single, ambitious package combining physical and social investments hand in hand” right now, regardless of Republican bellyaching:
While bipartisan support is welcome, the pursuit of Republican votes cannot come at the expense of limiting the scope of popular investments. We note that widespread climate denial among Republican lawmakers poses a threat to the bold, necessary action on climate that President Biden and Congressional Democrats have long championed. Republicans also enacted President [Donald] Trump’s massive tax giveaway—80 percent of which accrued to the wealthy and large corporations—and will likely remain a major obstacle to any opportunities to secure fair, progressive tax revenues to curb income and wealth inequality. Furthermore, Republicans have consistently opposed the high-road labor and equity standards that President Biden rightly included in the American Jobs Plan to ensure the creation of highpaying unions jobs with benefits, equitable hiring for women, people of color, and investments in Indigenous and marginalized communities that have endured decades of underinvestment.
They added that conceding to the GOP’s wishes does nothing but hamper progress:
On a host of priorities that can be delivered by this Congress, the trade-offs for Republican votes are stark. We ask that you work with the White House to prioritize transformative legislation that our voters were promised, which may require reforming or even eliminating the Senate filibuster as well as wielding the full powers available of the presidency, vice presidency, and relevant federal agencies to achieve these goals.
Other progressives such as Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) said that Republicans are “not being even players and we should just move on without them.”
Congressman Mark Pocan (D-WI) compared the GOP’s paltry infrastructure proposal to a “bake sale” at best – or at worst, a sick joke.
“At what point do they seriously come to the table?” Pocan asked of his conservative colleagues. “If they don’t come to the table, it doesn’t mean we don’t serve the meal.”
Defections within Democratic ranks from centrist Senators Joe Manchin (D-WVA) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) also pose a challenge to what the party hopes to achieve before the 2022 midterms.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.