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Sunrise Pelosi

Activists from People's Watch—including members of Sunrise Movement and United We Dream—protested at a Washington, D.C. fundraiser for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on September 28, 2021. (Photo: Sunrise Movement)

Activists Confront Pelosi at Fundraiser, Demanding She 'Hold the Line' on $3.5 Trillion Package

"Backtracking on this reconciliation bill means people will continue to die at the hands of the climate crisis," said one Sunrise Movement activist.

Brett Wilkins

As the youth-led Sunrise Movement on Tuesday accused Rep. Nancy Pelosi of "betrayal" for retreating from a promise to prioritize passage of the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill ahead of a planned vote on bipartisan infrastructure legislation, progressive activists confronted the House speaker in Washington, D.C. to demand that she "hold the line" on the Democrats' flagship reconciliation package.

"Democrats must seize this moment to pass the first pieces of federal climate policy to give us a real chance to combat this massive crisis."
—Nikayla Jefferson,
Sunrise Movement

Nikayla Jefferson, a Sunrise Movement activist from San Diego, confronted Pelosi (D-Calif.) during a demonstration organized by People's Watch outside a fundraiser in the nation's capital. As the speaker entered the event venue, Jefferson asked whether she will "commit to holding the line" by passing the reconciliation package before considering the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill—which campaigners have rejected for funding "false" solutions to the climate emergency.

Pelosi did not respond.

In a statement, Jefferson said that "in California, we get ruined by wildfires every year now and I'm afraid of just how much bigger, how much more destructive, these fires can burn."

"If Speaker Pelosi doesn't stay true to her word and pass the $3.5 trillion climate and jobs package first, I know I'll live to find out," Jefferson continued. "Backtracking on this reconciliation bill means people will continue to die at the hands of the climate crisis. Democrats must seize this moment to pass the first pieces of federal climate policy to give us a real chance to combat this massive crisis."

Karina Ruiz, executive director of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition (ADAC) and a member of United We Dream Action, said that she traveled to Washington, D.C. from Phoenix "to push congressional Democrats to make good on their promises to deliver a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented people."

"Speaker Pelosi and Democrats in Congress must ensure immigration stays in their version of the budget reconciliation, and stay true to their word and ensure that the entire $3.5 trillion package budget reconciliation moves alongside the bipartisan infrastructure package," Ruiz added. "We need Democrats to not only be bold but to stay true to the people."

Separately on Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) urged House lawmakers to vote against the $1 trillion bipartisan bill until after Congress passes the $3.5 trillion social welfare, infrastructure, and climate package.

"Let's be crystal clear," said Sanders. "If the bipartisan infrastructure bill is passed on its own on Thursday, this will be in violation of an agreement that was reached within the Democratic Caucus in Congress."

Other progressive lawmakers echoed the "betrayal" theme in their strident calls to pass the reconciliation package first.

"Let me be clear: bringing the so-called bipartisan infrastructure plan to a vote without the #BuildBackBetter Act at the same time is a betrayal," Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) tweeted Tuesday. "We will hold the line and vote it down."

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