AOC says lack of diversity in bipartisan infrastructure team shows why some communities ‘get left behind’

New York congresswoman warns minority communities not represented after sharing picture of all-white lawmakers

John Bowden
Thursday 24 June 2021 23:50
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<p>Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.</p>

Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took aim at the bipartisan group of senators who joined President Joe Biden at the White House to discuss a potential infrastructure deal, commenting that the all-white group showed how minorities did not have a place at the table for such negotiations.

In a thread of tweets posted on Thursday after lawmakers gathered with Mr Biden for a press conference to announce a deal around a $579 billion infrastructure framework, the New York progressive congresswoman suggested that priorities for working-class, low-income Americans, especially those of colour, were often sacrificed for the goal of bipartisanship.

Her comments signaled that progressives may need some assurances from the Biden administration and congressional leadership that their priorities, which will largely be covered in the Democrat-led reconciliation package, will be treated with the same importance as the bipartisan framework announced on Thursday.

“The diversity of this “bipartisan coalition” pretty perfectly conveys which communities get centered and which get left behind when leaders prioritize bipartisan dealmaking over inclusive lawmaking (which prioritizes delivering the most impact possible for the most people),” tweeted Ms Ocasio-Cortez, a second-term congresswoman.

“ [W]hen representatives of excluded communities object to the exclusion &marginalization required to make many bipartisan deals work, they’re dismissed as ‘unreasonable,’” she continued, adding: “So who/what often benefits from this type of bipartisan dealmaking? Corporations & structural racism.”

Ms Ocasio-Cortez went on to clarify that she was not opposed to all bipartisan dealmaking, while admonishing the media and political observers for the assumption that legislation was “good” just because it had support from both parties.

The president lined up alongside centrist Democrats and moderate Republicans on Thursday at the White House for an announcement concerning a deal to fund $579 billion worth of physical infrastructure repair and development, while promising that a second, Democratic-led package largely focused on issues of social infrastructure such as child care would be passed on a “dual track” with the bipartisan package.

Mr Biden’s comments come as the House Democratic leader, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, warned Thursday that the House would not take up the bipartisan package unless the reconciliation package of Democratic Party priorities was passed or set to pass at at the same time.

“Let me be really clear on this: we will not take up a bill in the House until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill. If there is no bipartisan bill, we will just go when the Senate passes the reconciliation bill,” Ms Pelosi said.

“There ain’t gonna be no bipartisan bill unless we are gonna have a reconciliation bill,” the Speaker added.

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