AOC Defends Pelosi Amid Backlash From Moderate Democrats Over Infrastructure Bill

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is defending Speaker Nancy Pelosi — and progressives’ plan for passing both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a reconciliation bill expanding the social safety net in tandem — after centrist Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) wrote a letter accusing the speaker of breaking an agreement with moderates.

“The Speaker didn’t break any promises,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Saturday.

Gottheimer released a letter criticizing Pelosi on Friday after she declined to bring the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill to the House floor for a vote by September 27. “It’s deeply regrettable that Speaker Pelosi breached her firm, public commitment… to hold a vote and to pass the once-in-a-century bipartisan infrastructure bill on or before September 27,” the congressman wrote. Another moderate, Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who co-chairs the Blue Dog Coalition, also expressed in a statement that she was “profoundly disappointed and disillusioned” the vote was delayed.

But Ocasio-Cortez pointed in a tweet to an NPR article from August where Pelosi is quoted saying that the “consensus” is to go with a two-track solution and acknowledging that “The votes in the House and Senate depend on us having both bills,” according to an NPR source familiar with a caucus call between Democrats. Pelosi, in an August statement, said, “I am committing to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill by September 27.” That is likely the commitment Gottheimer claims Pelosi broke, but AOC said in her tweet that the deadline was an “arbitrary date” for a different vote — “the Aug[ust] rule vote to proceed on a $3.5 [trillion] bill.”

The party’s progressive and moderate wings are currently engaged in a stand-off as each group advocates for their preferred strategy for accomplishing President Biden’s agenda. A small number of moderate Democrats want to pass the bipartisan bill as soon as possible, while the nearly-100-member Progressive Caucus refuses to support the bipartisan bill unless the larger $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill also gets a vote. Included in the Build Back Better reconciliation bill are so-called “soft” or “human infrastructure” priorities such as child care, universal kindergarten and community college, and paid family and medical leave. The bipartisan bill funds more traditional types of infrastructure such as roads, bridges, pipes and broadband.

Ocasio-Cortez in later tweets on Saturday also addressed concerns from moderates that the fate of the infrastructure bill will determine Democrats’ success in the midterms, saying that those same members are “halting voting rights” legislation, referring to the For the People Act that would expand voting rights and implement new laws around political fundraising and ethics.

“I don’t see how it makes sense to frame this infra[structure] bill as the #1 determinant of the midterms when the same slow-walkers here are halting voting rights,” she tweeted. “[Congress] could pass the best bill ever & it’s all a wash if Black & underserved voters are systematically disenfranchised next [year].”

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