House Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal is slamming Speaker Nancy Pelosi after Pelosi admitted the Democratic Party-driven “human infrastructure” package will be cut and no longer hit a $3.5 trillion price point.
In a campaign email sent out Tuesday titled, “Did you see what Nancy Pelosi said late last night?,”Jayapal’s team emphasized that Democrats should not leave out any key part of the Build Back Better agenda, including child care, paid leave, universal pre-K, community college, affordable housing, Medicare expansion, action on climate change and a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
“So why is Speaker Pelosi suggesting we should allow a couple of conservative Democrats to leave behind popular cornerstone policies of the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act? We need to deliver,” the email said.
“Democrats should not be negotiating against themselves. We should be passing President Biden’s popular Build Back Better Act and delivering for the people,” it continued.
In a Monday “Dear Colleague” letter, Pelosi (D-Calif.) admitted “difficult decisions must be made very soon” in order to pass the spending bill and a bipartisan infrastructure bill.
“Overwhelmingly, the guidance I am receiving from Members is to do fewer things well so that we can still have a transformative impact on families in the workplace and responsibly address the climate crisis: a Build Back Better agenda for jobs and the planet For The Children!” Pelosi wrote.
On Tuesday, Pelosi echoed the sentiments during a weekly press conference, while expressing frustration over the shrinking price tag.
“We had some important decisions to make in the next few days so that we can proceed,” she said. “I’m very disappointed that we’re not going with the original $3.5 trillion, which was very transformative, but in whatever we do, we’ll make decisions that will continue to be transformative about women in the workplace.”
When pressed on what could be the first item left out of the legislation, Pelosi declined to say.
“You must be kidding,” Pelosi said. “That’s a negotiation, that’s not something that I would be announcing here and I don’t even know what that would be.”
The exact details on what is included in the legislation have not been publicly released as negotiations over the bill’s price tag are ongoing.
The Democratic Party has been internally warring between progressives and moderates over the price of the bill. Progressives like Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), backed by Pelosi and President Biden, support the current $3.5 trillion top line, while moderate Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) have vowed not to support it in the upper chamber.
During a Tuesday call with reporters, several progressives reiterated their hesitance to go any lower than $3.5 trillion, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) dubbing it “already a major compromise” and “much too low.”
“We are prepared to negotiate, we’re prepared to compromise, but we are not going to negotiate with ourselves,” Sanders said. “Three point five trillion is already a major compromise, in my view, much too low given the enormous problems facing us in terms of climate. The time is now long overdue for Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema to tell us exactly where they are. What do they want to cut?”
Jayapal echoed that sentiment, calling the budget resolution “not some fringe wishlist.”
“The reality is, these are transformational programs that in different parts of our communities, desperately need,” she added. “And so we have been clear to the White House, to the speaker as well, that what the Progressive Caucus would like to have is not some false choice of just doing a couple of things and pitting communities against each other and leaving people behind, but actually reducing the number of years slightly, if we need to.”
“So that has been our position, that continues to be our position and we were happy to see the speaker say something similar in her press conference today as well in terms of cutting back the number of years that that is where we are as well.”