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Biden and Pelosi

U.S. President Joe Biden walks into the U.S. Capitol building with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for a meeting with House Democrats on the continued negotiations over the domestic spending Bills before the President departs for Europe on October 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. President Biden is heading to Rome where he will meet with leaders from the G20 as well as the Pope in the Vatican as Democrats are continuing internal negotiations about his administration's social policy spending bill. (Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

'Hold the Line': Progressives Push to Block Vote on Weaker Bill Without Final Text of Build Back Better

"By holding firm on keeping the Build Back Better Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill firmly linked, progressives are giving their colleagues in the Senate the space and the leverage to negotiate the strongest package possible."

Common Dreams staff

As President Joe Biden arrived on Capitol Hill to meet with Democratic leadership and caucus members on how to finalize agreement on a pair of bills designed to fix the nation's physical and care-giving infrastructure systems, progressive advocates mobilized Thursday to make sure lawmakers do not fully cave to the pressure of corporate lobbyists who have swarmed Congress over recent months to kill key aspects of the Build Back Better Act's social investment programs like Medicare expansion, paid family leave, bold climate action, elder care, and lower drug costs.

With the possibility for a vote on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIF) possible as early as later in the day, Indivisible issued a call to action via email Thursday morning and told its members: "If the Democrats let conservatives push through BIF without also passing the reconciliation package (that's the one that covers healthcare, climate, childcare, and more), we are going to squander our trifecta and accomplish nothing. We can't let Democrats cave. That's why it is urgent you call your representatives and tell them to vote no on the BIF until they've passed an inclusive recovery bill that works for everyone."

While Biden was expected to push a scaled-back $1.75 trillion deal during the meeting with congressional Democrats, Indivisible warned that if the BIF is passed without final and firm guarantees, Democrats "will lose the much-needed leverage we had to pass our full Build Back Better plan—and Americans can’t afford to lose Build Back Better."

The bipartisan deal isn't necessarily bad, the group explained, "it's just too small to meet the moment, which is why it needs to be paired with the full Build Back Better reconciliation package. Passing all of Build Back Better would mean expanding access to affordable healthcare and child care, making investments in a strong climate strategy, creating a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants and migrants, investing in housing, especially affordable housing and housing for unhoused populations, ensuring paid family and medical leave for every worker nationwide, and so much more. In short, it would help everyone."

In a joint statement, dozens of national, state, and local organizations—including Indivisible, Our Revolution, People's Action, Greenpeace USA, and others—offered a similar message Thursday morning.

"We are fully behind the Progressive Caucus as it holds the line for the biggest, boldest reconciliation package possible. Over the last year, progressives in Congress have played a crucial role keeping the Build Back Better Act on track, even in the face of a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign by big business to kill it in its cradle," the groups said.

"Now we're in the home stretch," the statement continued. "By holding firm on keeping the Build Back Better Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill firmly linked, progressives are giving their colleagues in the Senate the space and the leverage to negotiate the strongest package possible."

Just ahead of a full Democratic caucus meeting with Biden mid-morning, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, reiterated to reporters that there is no deal that she and her members have agreed to and that both bills must be finalized before one can possibly be reached.

Also ahead of the meeting, campaigners with the progressive group People's Watch and others said that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) called on them to "hold the line" outside so that she and her progressive colleagues in the House could do the same from inside. "You holding the line out here helps us hold the line in there," Ocasio-Cortez said.

"With so much happening in Congress right now, it is crucial that we have all hands on deck," said Indivisible in its missive. "Congress must deliver on Biden's full recovery agenda. The recovery package is an essential, must-pass bill that will help pretty much everybody in the entire country—we can't let conservatives tank it. We have to do everything we can to get it passed."

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