AOC Warns No Infrastructure Deal Without $3.5 Trillion Spending Bill

AOC Warns No Infrastructure Deal Without $3.5 Trillion Spending Bill

Mona Salama
Mona Salama
August 2, 2021

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) warned that House progressives have “more than enough” votes to tank the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package in the House if the Senate does not also pass their $3.5 trillion “antipoverty and climate bill” reconciliation bill.

During an appearance on CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ on Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez said that House Democrats must “hold on to that bargain” proposal that was previously mentioned by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who wants to link the fates of both the bipartisan bill and the proposed spending measure together in order for the House to take up for a vote.

“We have to hold on to that bargain,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN host Jake Tapper when asked if she would vote for the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill as the Senate is expected to pass it this week.

“If there’s not a reconciliation bill in the House, and if the Senate does not pass the reconciliation bill. We will uphold our end of the bargain and not pass the bipartisan bill until we get all of these investments in,” Ocasio-Cortez added.

Ocasio-Cortez noted that despite the $1 trillion bipartisan package does include some measures progressive wanted such as “funding for electric vehicle charging stations, public transit, clean water systems, and broadband,” she warned that the Senate “Candyland” deal in using “pay fors” as its proposed ways to pay for the investments are “alarming.”

“I want to be clear that the investments in the bipartisan bill are not all, you know, Candyland, there are some of these, “pay fors”, that are very alarming that we need to see the language,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “For example, some of the languages around privatizing public infrastructure, putting toll roads, leasing public infrastructure to private entities are very concerning and should be concerning to every American.”

“So we really need to see that language and see what’s put in there until it reaches — when it reaches the house. Bipartisan doesn’t always mean that it’s in the interest of the public good, frankly. Sometimes there’s a lot of corporate lobbyist giveaways in some of these bills,” she added.

The Senate on Sunday continued debating the infrastructure measure during an unusual weekend session, as negotiators and legislative staff wrangled over last-minute additions and edits including translation to the 2,700 pages of text.

A separate $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill conjured out by Senate Democrats earlier in July would feature infrastructure priorities focused on childcare, clean energy, and education. The party is aiming to pass the legislation through the budget reconciliation process, which requires a simple majority that isn’t subject to the 60-vote threshold needed to break a filibuster.

However, the Democrat proposed spending plan with the text of the bill continues to remain unknown has already garnished every Republican planning to vote against the measure, citing the debt and inflation. The controversial move to combine both initiatives could derail the entire negotiation process.

Ocasio-Cortez said that she believes a “very large amount” of the 90 members from the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) who would also scuttle the bipartisan infrastructure package if the reconciliation package doesn’t pass the Senate.

“How many House Progressives do you think are with you on rejecting the bipartisan bill,” Tapper asked.

“I believe a very large amount of the Progressive Caucus. The total amount is about 90. You know, I am not the whip of the Progressive Caucus but what I can tell you is it’s certainly more than three and it is in the double digits absolutely,” Ocasio-Cortez responded.

“Enough to prevent it from passing?” Tapper pressed.

“More than enough,” Ocasio-Cortez replied.

The progressive firebrand also cited that there is also a “tight margin” within the House, as Senate “tight margin” is split 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris being the tiebreaking 51st vote cast for the Democrats.

“I respect that we have to get Sen. Sinema and Manchin’s vote on reconciliation,” Ocasio-Cortez acknowledged. “They should also respect that there’s a very tight House margin and that we have to be able to uphold our end of the bargain as well, and House progressives are also part of that, that majority.” 

“We have a deal and the deal is reconciliation for the bipartisan infrastructure. It was made very clear at the beginning of this process that this bipartisan deal if it even survives the Senate, the only chance that it has at passing the House is if the House passes the Senate bill and if the Senate passes the House bill, which is largely in reconciliation. We can’t just have one body driving the entire legislative agenda for the country and, frankly, 20 senators within that one body. So we need a reconciliation bill if this bipartisan bill — if we want this bipartisan bill to pass,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Earlier, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) also told CNN ‘State Of The Union’ that he couldn’t “really guarantee” that the $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” reconciliation package would pass in the Senate.

“I can’t really guarantee anybody,” Manchin told Tapper. “I have not guaranteed anybody on any of these pieces of legislation. Would we like to do more? Yes, you can do what you can pay for. This is paid for. Our infrastructure bill is all paid for. We don’t have a debt, that we’re going to incur more debt in throwing onto it.”

“As far as reconciliation goes, it should be looked at the same. That’s why I said we’re going to get the budget resolution. Let’s start the process and then see where it goes,” he added.

The Senate is expected to advance a $1 trillion infrastructure bill by the end of the week. The $1 trillion legislation filed Sunday evening would provide $550 billion in new federal funds to shore up the nation’s aging public works system, on top of the expected continuation of existing federal infrastructure programs.

Mona Salama

Mona Salama

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