AOC, Cori Bush slam lack of diversity in bipartisan infrastructure deal talks

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AOC, Cori Bush slam lack of diversity in bipartisan infrastructure deal talks

A pair of “Squad” lawmakers have criticized the bipartisan group of senators who voted to push ahead with a massive infrastructure plan as being too white.

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Cori Bush (D-Mo.) slammed the group of 22 Democratic and Republican negotiators after the Senate voted 67-32 to advance debate on the critical legislation Wednesday evening.

“Is this the Bipartisan Infrastructure Group or the audience at a Kid Rock concert?” Bush asked in a tweet alongside the hashtag, “#NegotiationsSoWhite,” a play on the controversy over the lack of diversity in years past at the Academy Awards.

“A lot of times, ‘bipartisan agreements’ are just as defined by who people in power agree to exclude than include,” Ocasio-Cortez chimed in hours later with the same photo.

The GOP negotiators on the deal said Wednesday that they reached an agreement on the details of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill — salvaging a blueprint brokered last month by President Biden.

Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo.
Rep. Cori Bush is part of the Democratic “Squad” in the House of Representatives.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

The breakthrough came despite fears of spending spurring inflation and Republican unease about a possible second, larger “infrastructure” bill that Democrats want to ram through using special budget rules — which costs a lofty $3.5 trillion.

Biden split his infrastructure package, a centerpiece of his post-COVID agenda, into two for Congress to pass.

The first, the $1.2 trillion “American Jobs Plan,” focuses on so-called “hard” infrastructure, such as bridges, roads, broadband internet, clean water and public transit.

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) (5th L) speaks as (L-R) Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) listen
Cori Bush called out the group of negotiators, saying they look like an audience at a Kid Rock concert.
Getty Images

The second, the $3.5 trillion “American Families Plan,” is aimed at funding Democrats’ domestic policy platform, including investing in child care, paid leave, education and measures to curb climate change.

Republicans took issue with the second package, which they argue stretches the definition of infrastructure.

Some Democrats have also voiced concern about the larger bill, including key Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), whose vote would be needed for the bill to pass the upper chamber of Congress.

Progressive firebrand AOC took Sinema to task Wednesday over her opposition, while also referencing the lack of diversity in the bipartisan infrastructure group.

The 22 infrastructure negotiators
The 22 negotiators have reached a deal on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.
MSNBC

“Good luck tanking your own party’s investment on childcare, climate action, and infrastructure while presuming you’ll survive a 3 vote House margin — especially after choosing to exclude members of color from negotiations and calling that a ‘bipartisan accomplishment,’” the House Democrat snarled on Twitter.

Sinema, one of the top two Democratic negotiators of the bipartisan framework, announced her opposition Wednesday evening after the hard infrastructure bill comfortably passed the procedural vote.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has suggested the House won’t pass the $1.2 trillion compromise package if the Senate did not take up the “Families Plan” legislation — which would only pass through reconciliation.

Budget reconciliation allows the majority party to bypass the legislative filibuster, which is the Senate rule that requires 60 members to end debate on most topics and move forward to a vote.

The Senate is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, though Vice President Kamala Harris, as Senate president, has a tie-breaking vote. Still, 51 votes are not enough under current rules to break through the filibuster.

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