Progressives protest Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure efforts
Nearly 50 young activists, aged 13 to 30, demonstrated outside the White House Friday morning to demand Democrats adopt an infrastructure plan without bipartisan support.
Members of the youth-led climate group Sunrise Movement held signs reading “Our future is not negotiable” and “Biden No Compromise No Excuse”.
Progressive groups like Sunrise are calling on President Joe Biden to pay more attention to their demands and less to those of congressional Republicans. Sunrise wants the president to stop negotiating with the GOP.
“Biden walked up to us, promising us a future, and in return, we worked tirelessly to get him elected. We have held our end of the bargain, but now that Biden is in power, that promise of co-governance with progressives and youth is gone. He spent more time meeting with a Republican party that still contests today that he is the democratically elected president, ”Sunrise chief Varshini Prakash said in a press release Friday.
Prakash was part of the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force on climate last summer, a coalition formed by campaigns to signal Mr. Biden’s willingness to take a more progressive view.
Mr Biden has met with West Virginia Senator Shelly Moore Capito, who is leading negotiations for Republicans, twice this week and is expected to do so again on Monday. His $ 2 trillion proposal, the “US Jobs Plan,” would rebuild the country’s infrastructure and embrace a green economy through the creation of green union jobs, while Capito and his colleagues responded with a $ 257 billion proposal for new spending on public works alone.
Other activists who spoke to CBS News said Mr Biden is negotiating in the wrong direction and worries about giving in to Republicans too much, wasting a chance to pass a bold bill that would rebuild infrastructure and tackle the climate crisis while making the country a green economy.
“It’s not just about investing in jobs, we have a natural climate emergency around us, and it really scares me, frankly, that Biden is leaving from a place so much weaker than we need. “said Janet Redman, climate campaign manager for Greenpeace USA.
“Honestly, what I’m feeling is a little bit of frustration, some disappointment and some fear that we’re going to see the kind of business as usual; a repeat of the administration we had eight years ago, ”she said, adding that Mr. Biden could not claim to be a“ climate champion ”if he were to pass a bipartisan bill on infrastructure.
The progressive Green New Deal Network, made up of 15 organizations including the Sunrise Movement, Sierra Club and Greenpeace, is trying to push Mr. Biden to the left.
As members of Congress returned home this week, network groups staged protests outside members’ local offices. Many events in Illinois, Maine, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and more on Thursday were aimed at sending a message to specific lawmakers.
“[Capito has] been in negotiations with the White House and we believe this is not the time to negotiate our future, ”said Ryan Frankenberry, state director of the West Virginia Working Families Party, which is part of the network.
On Thursday, the party hosted events outside of Capito’s four offices in West Virginia.
“We just want to make sure that we elevate the issues and educate the public about what [she] is leading these negotiations and she can deliver for West Virginia, but the question is whether she, ”Frankenberry said.
The groups all endorsed the THRIVE Act, a proposed stimulus package that would invest at least $ 1 trillion a year in infrastructure, green jobs and racial equity over the next 10 years.
The THRIVE Act represents the real “vision” of rebuilding the country through a green and fair agenda, said Melinda Pierce, legislative director of the Sierra Club. But adopting the US jobs plan as the White House has presented it, she argues, would be very progressive.
So far, Pierce has said that Mr. Biden’s negotiating tactics have demonstrated his desire to publicly present a good faith attempt at bipartisanship, but that his “patience is not endless.”
Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg said clear direction for the infrastructure plan must be in place by Monday, June 7. Pierce said the new week should mark the end of GOP negotiations with Mr. Biden.
“The bipartisan effort must end on Monday,” she said. “If I’m wrong, I’ll jump into the ocean.