Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks at a rally

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) speaks at a "Go Bigger on Climate, Care, and Justice" rally on July 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Shannon Finney/Getty Images for Green New Deal Network)

'No Flexibility on the Price Tag,' Jayapal Says of $3.5 Trillion Bill

"If we don't deliver, then I think all of the people who came out and voted for Democrats to take control of the House, the Senate, and the White House are going to come out and say, 'that's it.'"

Jake Johnson

The leader of the nearly 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus made clear Tuesday that she's not willing to accept cuts to Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation proposal, a sweeping climate and social spending package that conservative members of the party are currently attempting to scale back.

"There is no flexibility on the price tag, and it's not because I care about what the top line is," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chair of the CPC, told the Washington Post. "It's because I care about delivering on these benefits."

Jayapal went on to warn that approving a watered-down version of the popular proposal—which includes Medicare expansion, paid family and medical leave, immigration reform, and major investments in green energy—could have disastrous electoral consequences for Democrats, who are clinging to vanishingly narrow majorities in the House and Senate ahead of the 2022 midterms.

According to a recent USA Today/Suffolk University survey, 52% of U.S. voters overall and 90% of Democrats support the $3.5 trillion package, which lawmakers are racing to complete by next month as deadly extreme weather across the U.S. lays bare the need for ambitious climate action.

"If we don't deliver," Jayapal said, "then I think all of the people who came out and voted for Democrats to take control of the House, the Senate, and the White House are going to come out and say, 'that's it.'"

Progressives in Congress believe they have the leverage to ensure that their major priorities are not stripped from the final reconciliation package to appease conservative Democrats, who are griping about the bill's $3.5 trillion price tag without offering an alternative or specifically detailing which provisions they would like to cut.

For weeks, members of the CPC have promised to vote against a $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill backed by conservative Democrats unless a reconciliation package containing progressive priorities is approved at the same time—a position that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) reiterated Tuesday.

"The commitment on this strategy to move both of these pieces simultaneously still remains," Omar, the CPC whip, told Roll Call.

Democratic committee leaders currently are rushing to finalize the details of the far-reaching reconciliation package before September 27, the date on which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) agreed to bring the bipartisan infrastructure bill up for a floor vote.

Asked about Sen. Joe Manchin's (D-W.Va.) call last week for a "strategic pause" on the reconciliation package, Pelosi said Tuesday, "Obviously, I don't agree."

"The number is the number: $3.5 [trillion]," Pelosi added. "We're going to pay for as much of it as possible. It'll have far less impact on the national debt than Republicans' 2017 tax scam."

A large majority of that tax giveaway went to the richest 1%, noted Pelosi, and "it added $2 trillion to the national debt."

Intraparty haggling over the final price tag of the reconciliation package comes as powerful corporations from a variety of industries—such as pharmaceuticals to fossil fuels—are mobilizing their vast resources in an effort to defeat the proposal, which is expected to include tax hikes on big businesses and wealthy individuals.

"These guys don't lose," Sanders (I-Vt.), the chair of the Senate Budget Committee and leading architect of the $3.5 trillion measure, told the Post earlier this summer when asked about the corporate lobbying blitz. "They're going to lose this round."

During five Labor Day town halls in his home state of Vermont on Monday, Sanders touted the reconciliation package as a necessity for "working families all over this country and to those of us who believe we have to act boldly on climate change."

"We've got California on fire," said the Vermont senator. "In Vermont, 3,000 miles away from Oregon, we're breathing the air, the smoke from those fires. Unbelievable."

Speaking to 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben at an event in Middlebury, Sanders stressed that the reconciliation package is "immensely popular, especially among working people," and said it's no surprise that corporations are aiming to tank the bill.

"The big-money interests are going to be hit on this bill," Sanders continued. "They're going to be asked to pay more in taxes. We're going to move away from fossil fuel. We're going to take on the pharmaceutical industry, the healthcare industry. Of course they are going to do everything they can to defeat it."


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

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'How Many More Deaths Must It Take?' Barbados Leader Rips Rich Nations in Fierce UN Speech

"How many more variants of Covid-19 must arrive, how many more, before a worldwide plan for vaccinations will be implemented?"

Jake Johnson ·


To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·


PG&E Charged With 11 Felony Counts—Including Manslaughter—Over 2020 Zogg Fire

"PG&E has a history with a repeated pattern of causing wildfires that is not getting better," said Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett. "It's only getting worse."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo