Ocasio-Cortez Slams Right-Wing Democrats for Watering Down Build Back Better Act

After the House passed the InadequatRep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic Representative from New York, criticized Friday’s bipartisan infrastructure bill. She warned of dire consequences for the bill and the political maneuvering that was around it.

She also criticized arguments that progressives shouldn’t express disapproval over the infrastructure bill, pointing out that those same arguments never seem to apply to conservative and moderate Democrats over the Build Back Better (BBB) Act.

“For people who say ‘don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good’ to pass legislation, consider why no one tells that to the Dems who killed passage of Rx drug pricing and Universal Pre-K this week over small process demands from safe Dem seats in places like NY and Hawaii,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote, referring to conservative Democrats like Rep. Kathleen Rice (New York) who opposed crucial elements of the Build Back Better Act.

“The reason platitudes like this are insulting is because they are exclusively employed to deny the working class, POC, and youth’s basic demands for livability. Like affordable rx drugs,” she continued. “No one says this to the safe-seat Dems who derailed climate action and healthcare over a [Congressional Budget Office (CBO)] table.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, broke a promise made by Democratic leaders to keep both the reconciliation and infrastructure bills linked together. The infrastructure bill was able to be put to a vote on Friday without any final deal on the reconciliation. Although progressive lawmakers have been fighting for the bills’ unity for months, only six progressive legislators voted against it in opposition to the decoupling: Reps Jamaal Bowman of New York, Cori Bush (Missouri), Ilhan Omar(Minnesota), AyannaPressley (Massachusetts), RashidaTlaib (Michigan), and OcasioCortez.

Ocasio-Cortez stressed the importance of keeping bills connected on Sunday. She compared the infrastructure bill to an ignition key and the reconciliation bill as a lock.

“If we message [the infrastructure bill] as good on climate alone when it’s not, we stop the pressure for BBB’s passage,” she wrote. “The desire to pass both together isn’t the unnuanced stance some pundits think it is.” While the infrastructure bill is a mixed bag of proposals, she said, the Build Back Better Act has the potential to drastically improve upon those proposals.

“If BBB [is] gutted/dies, we may have just locked in US emissions and thrown away our biggest chance to combat climate change,” Ocasio-Cortez continued.

Progressives fear that if the infrastructure bill passes, conservative Democrats like Senators Joe Manchin (D–West Virginia) or Kyrsten Sinema, (D-Arizona), won’t be motivated to vote for the Build back Better Act. Without the legislative shield of the infrastructure bill’s passage, in other words, the reconciliation bill may be watered down even further than it already has been — or even killed completely.

OcasioCortez pointed out that conservative Democrats voted on Friday in favor of the reconciliation bill. sabotaging the original planBoth bills must be passed. They cited concerns about the environment to justify this move. The bill’s price and whether its cost will add to the deficit, even though the White House’s framework estimates that the bill will actually raise more funds than it will spend. Conservative Democrats’ supposed concern over the deficit is especially ironic considering their dogged support of the infrastructure bill, which the CBO has said will add $256 billion to the deficit.

Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) pointed out their colleagues’ hypocrisy over the weekend. “Interesting. Conservative Dems want to make sure that Build Back Better is fully paid for at exactly the same time that they voted for an infrastructure bill that, according to the CBO, increases the federal deficit by $256 billion,” Sanders said. “Not very consistent!”

New York lawmaker pointed out that the bill was weak and moderate lawmakers tend to exaggerate the good effects. While Original draft of the billAlthough it had a provision to replace all the country’s lead pipes, it only has the funds to replace a fraction of them. The reconciliation bill on the other hand is contains funds to fill in the gaps left by Republicans and by conservative Democrats’ negotiations.

“Without BBB, many communities historically denied clean water will continue to be denied,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “I want to protect our party from the disappointment and collapse in turnout from communities like mine that occurs when we tell them we did things we didn’t do. We shouldn’t promise all lead pipes will be fixed if that is not the case. Some will, most won’t. We must push for BBB.”