Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., tore into the Senate on Monday after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., announced on Sunday he would not support President Biden’s massive “Build Back Better” legislation.
The progressive left has been pushing for the bill to be passed because it spends trillions on new social and climate issues and measures.
But without the support of all Democrats in the evenly-divided chamber, the legislation can’t pass as under a simple majority under budget reconciliation rules.
And Manchin, for weeks, has balked at the bill’s costs, claiming he is worried another huge injection of federal dollars into the economy will make existing inflation even worse.
That didn’t matter to “AOC,” however, who told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program:
And this idea that, again, over time has switched from a talking filibuster to now just being able to stand up and posture and make a threat. God forbid that they might actually have to show up and stand or — or sit and actually have to talk and actually live out the threat of their filibuster.
I mean, it is unconscionable the way that the Senate operates. It’s fundamentally undemocratic. And now what it’s doing is it’s allowing stripping of people’s voting rights across the country. We are in a crisis. Nineteen states have passed over 33 laws to limit or restrict the right to vote in the United States of America. We are beyond the time for something to pass.
And my concern is that even Manchin’s compromise or the fact that he was making statements just this past week, that he was just having conversations with the parliamentarian about voting rights that were illuminating — how has this not happened all year long?
And so what we really need to do is crack down on the Senate, which operates like an old boy’s club that has a couple of gals in it that have managed to break through, and we need to actually institute some institution — we need to implement some institutional discipline.
If people want to threaten to block ambassadorships, if they want to threaten dysfunction, they actually need to show up and do it. They need to show up and do a talking filibuster. And by the way, that is the compromise, because there shouldn’t even be a filibuster in the first place. And they need to really make sure that we are actually calling people to their threats.
And this idea that we can just go on Fox News or go on any — and legislate through television, and say that we are going to threaten to block ambassadorships, or threaten a filibuster or threaten to vote no, have that result in actual institutional inaction is unacceptable.
And again, it takes the president of the United States who I believe needs to be more forceful on the filibuster. He needs to also lean, I believe, on his executive authority and say if you’re going to get in the way, we’re going to find other ways to do this. And it’s either you’re with us or not with us. But this train is moving. And we need to govern. Because the United States house of representatives is delivering an agenda for the people.
We cannot blame Mitch McConnell, and we cannot blame Joe Manchin, either. Because we have tools at our disposal with the trifecta. And what we need to do is think and prioritize the communities that elected those majorities. And that includes poor people, the working class, middle class Americans, black Americans, immigrant communities, and more.
And it is — we have to move past a politics as usual that compromises all of those folks for a very narrow band of affluent voters. Because when elections are determined by one to two points, we cannot afford a collapse in turnout in anybody. In swing districts, in youth voters, in black communities, period, for whatever reason.
Every single community is critical right now. And we cannot allow — we cannot allow the climate crisis to become a catastrophe. Which is what is — which is what is represented right now with this bill going by the wayside or being trimmed down any further. Because as I’ve said in the house democratic caucus, some of us are actually going to have to live on this planet in 50 years. And right now what happens right now determines how bad it’s going to be. And so this is real life. This is serious. And we need to govern like it.
“And we need to really make it very clear that this bill, this framework, was signed off by Joe Manchin. And so this is a Joe Manchin Build Back Better Act,” she added.
“And so this idea that we’re going to go back to the table and give him the pen again for a bill that he has already — has his ink all over makes very little sense. So I think that in terms of that road, we really need to take an assessment of that. Because this has been — you know, being strung along has been the path this entire time, this entire year. And so there’s that part aside,” the self-avowed Democratic socialist continued.
“But I think also, you know, as an institution, it is important that the Senate, I think, step up in its governing culture. And I know that that may seem vague, but things that — what, for example, Joe and Mika and I just discussed, is that there are certain reforms that can be made within the culture of the Senate,” she said.
“And decisions that are made within the Senate that can make it harder to do this. And to make the environment harder to do this.”