- AOC said that party leaders will have a tough time corralling votes if reconciliation doesn’t pass soon.
- The congresswoman told the NYT that the process for passing Build Back Better has been “demoralizing for a lot of folks.”
- The House voted to advance the reconciliation bill, but it faces uncertainty in the Senate.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview published on Sunday that Democrats need to pass their nearly $2 trillion social-spending bill quickly or progressives may not provide the votes for passage of other pieces of legislation.
Speaking with The New York Times, Ocasio-Cortez, who voted against the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill recently passed by the House, and who was deeply critical of the way in which the legislation was handled, said that a lot is riding on President Joe Biden’s reconciliation bill being signed into law.
“I think the stakes are really, really high,” the New York Democrat said. “The entire reason that the Progressive Caucus gave their votes [for the infrastructure bill] was based on direct promises from the president, as well as direct promises from more conservative Democratic holdouts. And from House leadership as well.”
“So if those promises don’t follow through, it’s going to be very, very difficult for them to get votes on anything moving forward, because the trust that was already so delicate will have been broken,” she told the newspaper.
The House on Friday voted to advance the reconciliation bill, a key win for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, but it still faces a vote in the evenly-split Senate.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has not yet committed to supporting the final bill, has expressed concerns about inflation and paid-leave provisions, which could dampen hopes for swift passage of the legislation.
Ocasio-Cortez, one of the highest-profile progressive lawmakers in Congress, also said if the Build Back Better Act is passed in its final form and is similar to the version advanced by the House, then members “have a shot to go back to our communities and say we delivered.”
“But that’s not to say that this process has not been demoralizing for a lot of folks, because there were enormous promises made. Not just at the beginning, and not just during the election, but that continued to be made,” she said.
“And this is where I have sounded the alarm, because what really dampens turnout is when Democrats make promises that they don’t keep,” she added.
The congresswoman, who laid out her “trust” issues with the handling of the bipartisan bill earlier this month, said during her interview with The Times that she thinks the party must be attentive to passing substantive legislation.
“With the bipartisan infrastructure plan, there’s all of these headlines going around. And I understand the political importance of making a victory lap,” she said.
“But I think that the worst and most vulnerable position we could be in is to over-promise and under-deliver,” she added.