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Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez, Jayapal

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) joined Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) at a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on June 24, 2019. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

11 Senators Support House Progressives' Push to Pass Full Biden Agenda

"We voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill with the clear commitment that the two pieces of the package would move together along a dual track."

Jessica Corbett

With rising uncertainty about the fate of a U.S. Senate-approved bipartisan infrastructure bill and the broader reconciliation package Democrats are crafting, 11 senators on Wednesday expressed support for House progressives fighting to pass both simultaneously.

"We strongly support the Congressional Progressive Caucus and other members in the House who have said they intend to vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill only once the Build Back Better Act is passed."
—11 senators

The senators' joint statement comes as "Wall Street Democrats" and corporate lobbyists are working to cut down or even kill the Build Back Better package while at least half of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is threatening to withhold support for the bipartisan bill unless and until the multitrillion-dollar reconciliation legislation is also approved.

Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) noted in their new statement that Congress is on the verge of advancing "the most consequential economic legislation since the New Deal."

"We can create millions of good-paying jobs as we repair our crumbling infrastructure, address the climate crisis, and finally confront the long-neglected crises facing millions of low-income and working-class families across this country," the senators said. "But we can accomplish those goals only if we stick to our original agreement."

"We voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill with the clear commitment that the two pieces of the package would move together along a dual track," they continued. "Abandoning the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act and passing the infrastructure bill first would be in violation of that agreement."

Warning against any action undercutting President Joe Biden's proposals that aim to "create new opportunities for America's families and workers," the senators argue that the House should wait to pass the bipartisan bill until the reconciliation bill hits Biden's desk.

"Now is the time to pass both of these major pieces of legislation," they concluded. "We have no time to waste. We strongly support the Congressional Progressive Caucus and other members in the House who have said they intend to vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill only once the Build Back Better Act is passed. That is what we agreed to, it's what the American people want, and it's the only path forward for this Congress."

The senators' statement came a day after Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chair of the CPC, said that "more than half" of the caucus' members are willing to oppose the bipartisan bill if necessary—meaning it could only pass without the reconciliation bill if it garnered significant support from House Republicans.

"A deal is a deal—and that deal was that these two bills go together," Jayapal tweeted Wednesday.

While Democrats are still sorting out the final details of the reconciliation package—including its price tag, with progressive pushing for at least $3.5 trillion—it could include Medicare expansion and drug-pricing reforms as well as major investments in child care, education, housing, and combating the climate emergency.

In order to pass the budget resolution necessary to begin the process of crafting the package, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reached a deal with right-wing Democrats to "consider" the bipartisan bill by September 27.

Given that rapidly approaching deadline, Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), chair of the House Budget Committee, addressed the timeline for the reconciliation package on CNN Wednesday morning, warning that "there's virtually no chance of getting it done next week."

Despite that expectation—and concerns right-wing Democrats will tank the reconciliation package if the House doesn't vote on the bipartisan bill next week—Pelosi told reporters shortly after meeting with the president at the White House on Wednesday that "we're on schedule."

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