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Jessica Cisneros, a Democratic candidate for Texas' 28th congressional district, is interviewed by CQ Roll Call at its Washington, D.C. office on October 22, 2019. (Photo: Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)

Jessica Cisneros, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in Texas' 28th district, is interviewed by CQ Roll Call in Washington, D.C. on October 22, 2019. (Photo: Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)

Primary Challenger Hits Henry Cuellar for Trying to Tank Biden Agenda

"Once again, Rep. Cuellar has made clear that his priorities are serving his corporate donors—not the people of South Texas," said Jessica Cisneros, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in Texas' 28th district.

Kenny Stancil

Jessica Cisneros, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in Texas' 28th district, on Monday slammed the district's incumbent Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar for being willing to obstruct his own party's effort to expand Medicare, establish a pathway to citizenship, and fight the climate crisis.

"It is sad to see Henry Cuellar work so hard to stand in the way of improving the lives of everyday South Texans."
—Jessica Cisneros

Cuellar is one of nine right-wing Democrats warning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that they are prepared to vote against a $3.5 trillion budget resolution—which must be rubber-stamped before the party can enact a filibuster-proof reconciliation package to improve social welfare and strengthen climate action—unless the House first approves the Senate-passed $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill that minimizes investments in public goods and subsidizes fossil fuels.

The effort by the nine Democrats to advance the slimmer infrastructure bill before taking up a more ambitious reconciliation package, critics warn, is a deviation from President Joe Biden's "two-track" strategy, and it jeopardizes the party's plan to invest trillions of dollars in renewable energy, the care sector, and other areas critical to the nation's future.

Nevertheless, No Labels, a corporate-funded dark money group, has been running misleading ads in Texas' 28th district claiming that Cuellar is "helping President Biden get the job done."

Jessica Cisneros—an immigration attorney and Justice Democrat who lost a close race to Cuellar in 2020 and is campaigning to unseat him in the state's primary election next March—condemned Cuellar for vocally opposing the budget resolution even though it's a prerequisite to expanding the social safety net and citizenship rights, as well as reviving and decarbonizing the U.S. economy.

"It is sad to see Henry Cuellar work so hard to stand in the way of improving the lives of everyday South Texans," Cisneros said Monday in a statement.

"These political games may be fun for Congressman Cuellar, but for South Texans it means the difference between clean water, a roof over their heads, and the ability to afford their next hospital bill."
—Jessica Cisneros

Calling the $3.5 trillion budget resolution "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand healthcare for millions, combat the climate crisis, increase affordable housing, codify child care and paid leave, and provide a pathway to citizenship for our undocumented communities," Cisneros emphasized that Cuellar's actions threaten to undermine the provision of such relief.

"These political games may be fun for Congressman Cuellar," Cisneros continued, "but for South Texans it means the difference between clean water, a roof over their heads, and the ability to afford their next hospital bill."

"Once again," she added, "Rep. Cuellar has made clear that his priorities are serving his corporate donors—not the people of South Texas."

As Common Dreams reported earlier on Monday, "several" of the nine conservative House Democrats have recently backpedaled on their vow to tank their own party's agenda.

As the House reconvened on Monday following a legislative recess, the neoliberal think tank Third Way endorsed a statement from Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), chair of the New Democrat Coalition—home to various pro-market, anti-New Deal politicians—by tweeting that "all Democrats should vote for the budget resolution this week."

The Intercept's Ryan Grim responded by pointing out that Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), the ringleader of the group of nine Democrats, couldn't even keep those allies "on board" with his plan.

Some of the only support Gottheimer and the remaining members of his crew received on Monday came from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a proponent of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, who—along with fellow conservative Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.)—has expressed concerns about the $3.5 trillion budget resolution.

Grim noted that Gottheimer was also "contradicted on record by the White House after he tried to claim he was actually just doing what Biden wants him to."

Polling released Monday by Data for Progress and Climate Power showed that a majority of voters in the districts represented by the nine right-wing House Democrats approve of the reconciliation package.

According to a statement by the two groups, voters in the nine districts—including Cuellar's in Texas—"think Democrats in Congress should use their majority to pass the Build Back Better agenda."

"By a +7-point margin, voters agree that Democrats should use their majority to pass the budget proposal, even if no Republicans support it," the groups said. "87% of Democrats and 42% of Independents agree that Democrats should take action even without Republican support."


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