Ten senators triumphantly backed President Joe Biden on Thursday as he announced his support for the infrastructure deal they had struck. Getting five Democrats and five Republicans to agree on something was no small feat, and the president’s accession was a major milestone.
Bipartism is a concept dear to Washington. When a bill has the support of Republicans and Democrats, it is supposed to be better, more representative of what people want, and better able to withstand scrutiny.
But that’s not what bipartisanship is most of the time.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) noted the glaring disparities in the group that met at the White House, comment on twitter, “The diversity of this ‘bipartisan coalition’ is a pretty good indication of which communities are centered and which are left behind when leaders prioritize bipartisan bargaining over inclusive law-making (which prioritizes providing the most impact possible for the greatest number). “
Yes, the senators were all white; only 11 out of 100 senators are people of color.
But perhaps even more important are the states these senators represent: this group comes primarily from predominantly white states. In other words, states with large numbers of people of color and large cities were mostly excluded from the discussion.
Only three senators in the group – Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) And Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) States represent more diverse states than the United States as a whole.
The other seven have more white residents as a percentage of their population. Notably, four of the Senators – Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) – are from states that are among the top five whitest states in the nation. All their populations are over 85% white.
“It’s a shame that the bipartisan group does not represent the diverse economy, needs and people of the country. Bigger, more diverse states should have a seat at the table because the infrastructure package will be so important to big cities and communities of color, ”said Darnell Grisby, executive director of TransForm, an advocacy group. rights in California which focuses on transportation and justice. .
“States like California, New York and Texas have mass transit systems that serve millions of people and power our nation’s largest economies, and they have ambitious new projects underway like the bullet train. . A robust infrastructure package will help our entire country, but communities of color often have more to gain as job seekers, commuters and transit users; they should be represented in bipartite negotiations, ”he added.
The infrastructure framework totals approximately $ 1.2 trillion over eight years, containing $ 579 billion in new federal spending on infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, airports and waterways. There would be no further tax increases payable for the projects.
Other Democratic senators are skeptical of the deal, not least because it does not include strong measures to tackle climate change.
Biden has pledged to veto the infrastructure bill unless it is associated with a broader job package that includes investments in child care, elderly care, purchase of housing and electric vehicles.
“If that’s the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing it,” Biden said Thursday. “I don’t just sign the bipartisan bill and forget the rest.”
But to pass this second bill, Democrats will have to go through a process known as reconciliation, which will allow them to move the bill forward by simple majority. They’ll need every Democratic senator on board to do it.
Manchin on Thursday indicated his support for the plan, calling the reconciliation “inevitable.”
But it is still not known whether this agreement will be concluded. Republicans are already balking at the arrangement. Senator Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) called it “extortion” and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Lambasted Biden for ruining the bipartisan moment.
Republicans have long insisted that any infrastructure package only include funding for things traditionally considered infrastructure, like roads and bridges.
Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), who endorsed the bipartisan framework, for example, is look for insurance moderate Democrats that if he votes for the bipartisan bill, they will ultimately not support a reconciliation package.
Meanwhile, the Democratic-controlled House is not going to agree to a deal that only includes the bipartisan infrastructure package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Vowed that the House would not move forward “until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill.”
“This is why a bipartite [package] alone is not acceptable. The exclusion and denial of our communities is what DC’s bipartite agreements demand ”, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Thursday. “This is how we get the GOP on board: don’t do much for the working class”, women, people of color or unions.
“We have to do more,” she said.
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