Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appeared Wednesday on The Rachel Maddow Show, where she called out fellow Democrats, without naming names, who she believes are threatening the Build Back Better Act, also known as the reconciliation bill, which would address climate change and prescription drug prices, among a host of other things. Ocasio-Cortez, along with other progressive Democrats, believes the reconciliation bill needs to be bundled with the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which may be voted on in the House on Thursday, to ensure that it passes.
“We have a vast majority of Democrats, about 96 percent, that are in agreement of the entire agenda. Now, a very small handful of Democrats, about 4 percent of the party, are trying to essentially split these two priorities up,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And I personally don't think it's an accident that the ones that a lot of lobbyists love are in the much smaller, underfunded bill, that don’t make prescription drugs easier to buy and more affordable, etcetera.”
Among the Democrats threatening the bill are Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has close ties to the fossil fuel industry, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who has accepted campaign donations from the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. There are also three House Democrats fighting the legislation to lower drug prices. Reps. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Scott Peters of California and Kathleen Rice of New York have received roughly $1.6 million in campaign donations from the pharmaceuticals and health products industries. Ocasio-Cortez believes Democrats such as these plan to pass the infrastructure bill, but not the reconciliation bill.
“What they want is to split them apart,” Ocasio-Cortez said, “force a vote on the first one, and because we have such narrow margins in the Senate and the House, the read that we have is that they'll just dump the second one. Leave the other one out to dry, and just never actually vote on it.”
Although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reversed her stance that both bills must be passed at the same time, Ocasio-Cortez believes that’s the only way forward.
“The way that we bring our two parts of the caucus together,” Ocasio-Cortez said, “is by saying, ‘You know what? My bill is bound up in your bill, and your bill is bound up in my bill.’”
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