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Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) board an elevator after a meeting on Capitol Hill on September 30, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Outside Progressives Warn House Dems Trusting Manchin-Sinema 'Would Be a Terrible Mistake'

"You have one bit of leverage. Use it. The infrastructure bill must not be passed in the House until there is clear, public, and unequivocal support for a reconciliation package from the full Senate caucus."

Jessica Corbett

As Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives continued to signal they intend to vote this week on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and Build Back Better package, progressives outside Congress warned Tuesday that trusting a pair of corporate-backed senators "would be a terrible mistake."

"The two conservative Democrats holding the nation hostage with unreasonable and ever-shifting demands have proven themselves to be unreliable negotiating partners."

Leaders of the Patriotic Millionaires sent a letter calling on members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) to "hold the line" and not vote on the infrastructure bill until the full Senate Democratic Caucus commits to swiftly passing the budget reconciliation legislation.

The letter to Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the CPC chair, and the rest of the caucus—signed by the Patriotic Millionaires' president and founder Erica Payne and chair of the board Morris Pearl—declares: "This is getting ridiculous. We are sure you agree."

Though Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are not named, the letter clearly references them, stating that "the two conservative Democrats holding the nation hostage with unreasonable and ever-shifting demands have proven themselves to be unreliable negotiating partners and there is no reason to believe they will do the right thing."

"You have one bit of leverage. Use it," the letter urges CPC members. "The infrastructure bill must not be passed in the House until there is clear, public, and unequivocal support for a reconciliation package from the full Senate caucus."

"Please do not let a manufactured sense of urgency sway you from the fact that, from the beginning, these two bills were intended to pass together," the letter adds. "That is what was promised, that is what must happen."

The message to the CPC—which includes about a fifth of House members, a crucial voting bloc for passing any legislation—came after Jayapal appeared on CNN Tuesday morning and made clear that the plan is still for the House to pass both bills this week.

Echoing her comments Monday in the wake of a Manchin press conference that generated concerns about the reconciliation bill's future, Jayapal said Tuesday that she trusts President Joe Biden will secure the 51 votes needed to pass the Build Back Better bill in the Senate.

Manchin on Monday called for an immediate vote on the infrastructure bill he helped craft, declaring that "holding this bill hostage is not going to work in getting my support for the reconciliation bill," and indicated he still has concerns about the latter.

The West Virginia Democrat's refusal to support the Build Back Better bill he's already watered down drew rebuke from progressives within and beyond Congress. Condemning his "opposition" to the package as "anti-Black, anti-child, anti-woman, and anti-immigrant," Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) said that "Joe Manchin does not get to dictate the future of our country."

Read the Patriotic Millionaires' full letter:

Dear Rep. Jayapal and Members of the Progressive Caucus:

This is getting ridiculous. We are sure you agree.

We are writing today to urge you and your colleagues to hold the line and to refuse to vote on the physical infrastructure bill until there is a commitment from the full Senate Caucus to pass the Build Back Better bill. We are deeply concerned about reports that progressives are considering allowing the vote on the physical infrastructure to go forward.

This would be a terrible mistake.

The two conservative Democrats holding the nation hostage with unreasonable and ever-shifting demands have proven themselves to be unreliable negotiating partners and there is no reason to believe they will do the right thing.

You have one bit of leverage. Use it. The infrastructure bill must not be passed in the House until there is clear, public, and unequivocal support for a reconciliation package from the full Senate caucus.

Please do not let a manufactured sense of urgency sway you from the fact that, from the beginning, these two bills were intended to pass together. That is what was promised, that is what must happen.

To be clear, both packages enjoy the support of the bi-partisan majority of Americans.

But from the perspective of the Patriotic Millionaires, the Build Back Better plan is the only bill of the two that takes any steps toward unwinding the decades of preferential treatment the uber wealthy have received in the tax code. It is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction towards shrinking the destabilizing levels of inequality in our country.

You know as well as we do that the Build Back Better package, not the infrastructure bill, is the legislation that this country needs. You must make it clear that you will settle for no less than what your constituents deserve, and refuse to pass BIF without support for the full Build Back Better Agenda.

Warmly,

Erica Payne, President and Founder of the Patriotic Millionaires

Morris Pearl, Chair of the Board of the Patriotic Millionaires

 


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