In an exclusive interview with ABC News Thursday, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush slammed Sen. Joe Manchin for demanding that Democrats trim the size and scale of their social spending proposal to win his support — accusing the West Virginia Democrat and other moderates of being “all over the place” and “fundamentally unserious.”
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“Some of our Senate colleagues are all over the place,” Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., told ABC News Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott, calling out Manchin by name for his most recent comments after he signaled months ago an “openness” to a larger amount of spending. “Which senator are we negotiating with?” she asked. “Will it be June Manchin? Is it September Manchin? Is it August Manchin? … Will it be a different senator that pops up?”
ABC NewsReps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush, left, talk to ABC’s Rachel Scott, right, about Sen. Joe Manchin demanding that Democrats trim the size and scale of their social spending proposal to win his support, Sept. 30, 2021, outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Earlier Thursday, Manchin, on the same day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was trying to placate progressives, said publicly what he has hinted at for weeks — and reportedly laid out for Democratic leaders in private this summer: that he is only willing to support a large social safety net bill of $1.5 trillion, which would be $2 trillion less than the proposal the White House and House Democrats have coalesced around.
Progressives slammed Manchin for the comments, noting that he had hinted that he could support a larger package earlier this summer.
Andrew Harnik/APSen. Joe Manchin, speaks to members of the media outside the U.S. Capitol, Sept. 30, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
The impasse between Manchin, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and other Democrats over the broad package is jeopardizing the passage of a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal in the House.
Progressives have threatened to tank the Senate-passed bill over Manchin’s refusal to consider the larger bill and claim he is backtracking on a plan to support both in tandem. Still, Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders say they plan to put the bill on the floor Thursday, even as they acknowledge it may lack the votes to pass without a broader agreement.
Ocasio-Cortez and Bush’s anger towards Manchin and their moderate Democratic colleagues underscored the unease in the Democratic caucus between its right and left flanks — and the challenge facing Democratic leaders in uniting the party around their agenda.
“When you have a moving target, and we’ve been in negotiations for six months, and the two main senators … still don’t have an idea of what their number is, they just pulled one out yesterday (Wednesday) after being engaged in these conversations for six months, this is where it’s leading. Their lack of consistency and their lack of homework is creating instability in the process.”
“We can’t negotiate with a melting or moving object,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“We have to make sure that resources are available to everyone in our community,” Bush said, repeating her argument that a slimmed-down package would not be sufficient to address the needs of communities of color, including her constituents in St. Louis.
“We need to be serious and right now when we are seeing from the conservative side and the small cadre of people is a fundamentally unserious pattern of negotiation,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
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