Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that moderate Democratic senators were “not really coming to the table” to negotiate President Joe Biden’s reconciliation spending package.
Partial transcript as follows:
BRENNAN: So- but a $2 trillion ceiling, that means you’re going to have to maneuver here somewhere. The head of your caucus said this morning you’re looking at shorter funding periods for programs. So instead of chopping, sort of nipping and tucking.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, yes–
BRENNAN: So, what is non-negotiable there for you?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: So, you know, you bring up an excellent point, in that the fact is- is that we do have to compromise with- with- with the fact that we have Sens. Manchin and Sinema, who refuse to support certain programs for working families. And so, the compromises and options that we have before us is do we shorten our funding programs? Do you reduce the level of funding? Do you cut programs out together? I think that one of the ideas that out there is fully fund what we can fully fund, but maybe instead of doing it for 10 years, you fully fund it for five years or you fully fund it–
BRENNAN: What are you thinking of when you throw that out as an example?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: So I think, you know, I think there’s a- there’s so many different programs in the budget bill. First of all, I think it’s unfortunate that we have to, even as Democrats have a discussion about not having a child tax credit. I think it’s unfortunate that we- we have to compromise with ourselves for an ambitious agenda for working people. I believe that free community college should be- it should be a standard, it should- we should have K through 14. But this is one bill and perhaps we can vote for more down the line, and we’ve discussed with the president about that, continuing that funding. But there’s a- there’s a wide variety of those programs, and I would encourage folks in their community to also reach out to their elected officials to let them know what programs they want to make sure are kept. But I think there are some things that are- that are that are very, very important to us.
BRENNAN: What’s your- for you. What is non-negotiable?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: You know, I think some of- some of the climate provisions that we have, we cannot afford to increase carbon or just fossil fuel emissions at this time. That is simply the science. That is not something we can kick down the line. Right now, both the IPCC report saying that this is code red for humanity, as well as recent reporting, saying that if you’re under 40, like myself, like millions of Americans, you’ll be seeing a catastrophic increase–
BRENNAN: You’re going to run right into Senator Joe Manchin on those issues though, you know that.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes. And I think- I think Senator Manchin is going to run to the science as well.
BRENNAN: So, what do you think that means? And he also has said for him, this bill will be dead on arrival if it does not include the Hyde amendment, which would ban federal funding for abortion.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: So, I think what we’re seeing here is a dynamic where progressives are trying to skin this cat nine different ways, but moderates are not really coming to the table. And I don’t even want to call them moderates because there’s a lot of moderates in the party that don’t like being associated with- with some of this hard-line tactics. It’s- it’s a very tiny contra of- of conservative Democrats. But- but I mean, this is the issue is that we’re saying, OK, we’re going down from six trillion to three trillion. Now it’s one trillion and we have some these conservatives that say, well, our line is zero and you’re lucky if you get one. And this isn’t- I want to ground this conversation because this isn’t a tit for tat between personality- and it’s not about me and Senator Manchin. It’s about families in the Bronx. This is about people who need to take their bus- take a bus to drop their kid off at school, and they’re not going to be able to go back to work because they don’t have childcare to go back to work.
BRENNAN: But- but it is a question about the vision for the Democratic Party. And last year, you were very, very frank during the presidential race, you said. In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not even be in the same party, but in America, we are. Has Joe Biden proved himself progressive enough for you now?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yeah, you know, I think- and- and those comments are- are- are referring to parliamentary systems in other countries where there’s a lot more diversity. We don’t have a two party duopoly in other countries the way that we do in ours, but I think that President Biden has been a good faith partner to the entire Democratic Party. He is in fact a moderate and we disagree on certain issues. But he- he reaches out and he actually tries to understand our perspective, and that is why I am fighting for his agenda with the Build Back Better Act.
BRENNAN: Are you surprised, though, that he hasn’t been able to deliver those Senate moderates that you’re having those problems with?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: No. No, I think that for quite some time we have seen that some of these conservatives in the party. You know, this is not about a team, it’s about, you know, individual sort of preferences. But that is OK. You know, we’re going to come together. I believe in the vision and commitment of our party for working people. And the thing is, is that we have to respect all families and all voters.
BRENNAN: Lastly, just, you know, these moderates in the house as well, not just Senator Manchin would say, you’re not playing for the team when you hold one bill hostage, as they would say for the other, and put a bill that has roads and bridges and jobs potentially at risk.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, the agreement several months ago to even proceed on that one bipartisan bill was that it was tied with- with our larger build back, better agenda. And the reason when some folks say, Well, why can’t you just pass this, and we’ll see everything else later? First of all, we do not. Both of these bills need to pass. Both will not pass if they- if people try to separate them, if we try to diverge from that agreement that was settled several months ago. We can’t simply invent new terms mid-stream and then expect everyone else that those initial terms to hold. I’m willing to hold up my end of the bargain by sticking to both. And we want all we need to expect all of our lawmakers who are part of that deal to stick to that bargain.
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