Booker sides with Democratic progressives in fight over infrastructure bill

Published: Oct. 03, 2021

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker waded into the ongoing dispute between moderate and progressive Democrats Sunday, saying a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill shouldn’t pass without Congress also approving legislation addressing health care, child care and climate change.

Booker’s comments came after the House delayed a vote on infrastructure when progressives said they would not back the bill until an agreement was reached on the other legislation addressing health care, child care and climate change. Democrats plan to pass that legislation under a process known as reconciliation and cannot afford any dissenters in a Senate split evenly between the parties.

“I support both of these being part of same package. Let’s do them both,” Booker said in comments to CBS’s “Face the Nation” that were aired on the program’s website. “I support us coming together as a party and seizing this moment. There should be enough to pull us together for some compromise to get this done.”

The infrastructure bill includes at least $12.3 billion for New Jersey, plus funding to be tapped to build the long-sought Gateway Tunnel under the Hudson River. The second measure, which is likely to drop below its original $3.5 trillion price tag, also would address the Republican tax law’s $10,000 cap on deducting state and local taxes.

Booker’s position is aligned with President Joe Biden, whose senior adviser, former Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., said deals would be made to get support for both piece of legislation.

“People will not get everything they want,” Richmond said on NBC’s “Meet the Press. “That is the art of legislating. But the goal here is to get both bills. And we’re going to fight until we get both bills. And that’s the statement from the President. Human infrastructure is important and physical infrastructure is important. So we’re going to do both.”

The decision by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to delay the infrastructure bill after promising a vote last month didn’t sit well with some moderate members of her caucus, who had demanded that the two pieces of legislation be decoupled.

A leader of the faction, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th Dist., on Friday called her action “deeply regrettable” and blamed the delay on “a small far left faction” of Democrats.

Pelosi originally promised a vote on the infrastructure bill because Gottheimer and other moderates threatened to hold up the other legislation. But she found she didn’t have the votes after progressives said would withhold their support until their priorities also were taken care of.

“All too often ... when we have to make a compromise, the folks that get compromised are lower income, working class families,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said Sunday on CBS. “It’s health care, it’s relief, it’s communities of color. And we want to make sure that we’re fighting for all of us, not just some of us.”

Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said it may take a while longer to get both bills through.

“Our job right now is to rally the American people to continue the negotiations,” Sanders said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And I think at the end of the day we’re going to pass both pieces of legislation.”

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s next week or three weeks from now. What matters is that we finally address the problems facing working families. That’s what matters,” Sanders said.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-10-04 03:14:44 -0700