Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) listens as President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol on April 28, 2021.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) listens as President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol on April 28, 2021. (Photo: Melina Mara/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

'This Is How You Lose Your Majority': Progressive Warnings Mount as Dems Drag Their Feet on Infrastructure

"Republicans aren't interested in compromise. They never were. Let's meet the scale of this crisis and pass the bold package our nation needs."

Jake Johnson

Progressive frustration with the Democratic leadership's slow-walking of climate and infrastructure legislation is reaching a boiling point this week as the Biden administration—wedded to the pursuit of a bipartisan bill—continues to hold out hope for a deal with Republican lawmakers, even as they put forth woefully inadequate counteroffers.

"This is completely unacceptable," Evan Weber, political director of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, said Tuesday in response to a report indicating that Democrats—who narrowly control both chambers of Congress—don't believe they can complete work on an infrastructure package by September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

"Now is the time to go big and bold. Mitch McConnell said 100% of his focus is on blocking this administration—so it's time to move forward without Republicans."
—Rep. Pramila Jayapal

"This is how you lose your majority," Weber added.

Waleed Shahid, a spokesperson for Justice Democrats, echoed Weber's warning of potential voter backlash at the polls if Democrats fail to deliver on their promises.

"This is an impending disaster for Democrats," Shahid tweeted.

The White House and Republican lawmakers have made no discernible progress in infrastructure talks since President Joe Biden unveiled his $2.2 trillion opening offer at the end of March, a package progressives criticized as insufficient. Late last week, as Common Dreams reported, Biden drew the ire of environmentalists and other critics by shaving $550 billion off his initial plan in a bid to attract GOP support.

But Republicans were nowhere near satisfied with the cut, which slashed proposed spending on manufacturing, research and development, broadband expansion, and other elements of the package.

On Thursday, as ABC News reported, "Senate Republicans intend to send President Joe Biden a nearly $1 trillion counterproposal on infrastructure spending" in the latest effort to work toward a bipartisan compromise before Biden's soft Memorial Day deadline.

"Talks stalled Friday after Republicans flatly rejected a $1.7 trillion offer from the White House, a pared down version of Biden's American Jobs Plan," ABC noted. "Republicans opposed the overall price of the White House package, but also rejected the proposed White House funding mechanism."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)—the GOP's lead infrastructure negotiator—have said Republicans are unwilling to accept any proposal that alters the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a key achievement of former President Donald Trump that predominately rewarded the rich and large corporations.

In the original version of the American Jobs Plan, Biden proposed hiking the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and the top individual tax rate from 37% to 39.6%.

"There is no chance 10 Senate Republicans will vote for any major [Democratic] bill—not infrastructure, not health, not climate, not immigration," climate journalist David Roberts tweeted Tuesday. "It is wild how many people and institutions are involved in what is effectively an elaborate bit of theater, pretending otherwise."

For weeks, progressive leaders in Congress have warned Biden that the GOP is not negotiating in good faith and urged the administration and Democratic leaders to go it alone on infrastructure using the budget reconciliation process, by which bills can pass with a simple-majority vote.

"Republicans aren't interested in compromise. They never were," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Tuesday. "Let's meet the scale of this crisis and pass the bold package our nation needs."

As progressives pressure Democratic leaders to move with greater urgency on infrastructure—just part of a priority list that includes voting rights, immigration, policing reform, and more—The Hill reported Tuesday that Senate Democratic negotiators are giving Republicans and the White House up to three additional weeks "to show significant progress" before Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) moves ahead without the GOP.

"This is not the time for half-measures, half-spending, or foot-dragging. Now is the time to go big, to go bold, and to go fast."
—Sen. Ed Markey

During a briefing on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki insisted that "the ball is in the Republicans' court."

"We are awaiting their counterproposal," said Psaki. "We would welcome that. We are eager to engage and even have them down here to the White House once we see that counterproposal."

Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)—whose vote Democrats need to maintain their razor-thin majority in the upper chamber—is asking for more time to hash out a bipartisan infrastructure plan with Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and others.

"I don't know why you need reconciliation," Manchin said Tuesday, voicing optimism that a bipartisan deal is achievable.

Progressive critics such as Demand Justice executive director Brian Fallon said the current situation is reminiscent of the early years of the Obama administration, when Democrats controlled Congress and the White House but still allowed the minority party to hamper their agenda.

Other Senate Democrats, though, have made clear in recent days that they view attempts to negotiate an infrastructure and climate deal with the GOP as a waste of precious time, particularly given the refusal of many Republicans to even acknowledge the reality of human-caused climate change.

"You cannot negotiate a climate bill with climate deniers," said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who criticized the Biden White House's decision to trim down its opening infrastructure offer to appease austerity-obsessed Republicans.

"A smaller infrastructure package means fewer jobs, less justice, less climate action, and less investment in America's future," Markey warned. "This is not the time for half-measures, half-spending, or foot-dragging. Now is the time to go big, to go bold, and to go fast."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

Abortion Rights Defenders Applaud Judge's Block on Utah 'Trigger Ban'

"Today is a win, but it is only the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult fight," said one pro-choice advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


Scores Feared Dead and Wounded as Russian Missiles Hit Ukraine Shopping Center

"People just burned alive," said Ukraine's interior minister, while the head of the Poltava region stated that "it is too early to talk about the final number of the killed."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biodiversity Risks Could Persist for Decades After Global Temperature Peak

One study co-author said the findings "should act as a wake-up call that delaying emissions cuts will mean a temperature overshoot that comes at an astronomical cost to nature and humans that unproven negative emission technologies cannot simply reverse."

Jessica Corbett ·


Amnesty Report Demands Biden Take Action to End Death Penalty

"The world is waiting for the USA to do what almost 100 countries have achieved during this past half-century—total abolition of the death penalty," said the group.

Julia Conley ·


Pointing to 'Recently Obtained Evidence,' Jan. 6 Panel Calls Surprise Tuesday Hearing

The announcement came less than a week after the House panel delayed new hearings until next month, citing a "deluge" of fresh evidence.

Common Dreams staff ·

Common Dreams Logo