Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slams the lack of diversity in an all-white group of lawmakers who drafted a bipartisan infrastructure deal

Alexandria ocasio cortez
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks during an event outside Union Station June 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. Ocasio-Cortez, joined by Rep. Seth Moulton (D-NY) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), called for increased federal funding for high-speed rail in the infrastructure package being discussed on Capitol Hill. Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized the bipartisan group of lawmakers who negotiated an infrastructure deal.
  • President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that the group reached a deal.
  • The New York lawmaker called out the group for its lack of diversity.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday criticized an all-white group of senators who reached a bipartisan deal on infrastructure legislation, pointing out the group’s lack of diversity and arguing it excluded marginalized communities.

“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),” the New York Democrat tweeted alongside a photo of the group of lawmakers with President Joe Biden outside the White House on Thursday.

“This is why a bipartisan [package] alone isn’t acceptable,” Ocasio-Cortez went on to say. “The exclusion & denial of our communities is what DC bipartisan deals require. That’s how you get GOP on board: don’t do much/any for the working class & low income, or women, or poc communities, or unions, etc. We must do more.”

The progressive firebrand has repeatedly cautioned in the past that communities of color and other marginalized groups get left behind in the pursuit of bipartisanship.

-Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 24, 2021

Ocasio-Cortez’s comments came shortly after Biden had a meeting with a bipartisan group of 10 senators and announced that they struck an agreement on a $1 trillion infrastructure package. The framework includes $579 billion in new spending dedicated to physical infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, broadband access, and public transit. Yet it leaves out funding for other measures like childcare, paid family leave, and free community college that Biden had proposed.

The lawmakers who led the negotiations include five Republicans and five Democrats. The GOP senators are Mitt Romney of Utah, Rob Portman of Ohio, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. The Democrats are Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jon Tester of Montana, Mark Warner of Virginia, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Biden and the senators hailed the bipartisan dealmaking.

“Let me say this: when we can find common ground though, working across party lines, that is what I will seek to do,” Biden, who campaigned on his willingness to negotiate with Republicans, said in a speech afterward.

“America works. The Senate works. And we can work together,” Romney told reporters at the White House.

Many congressional Democrats have scoffed at the package, criticizing its smaller size and pushing for a larger, second bill that addresses Biden’s additional spending priorities. Senate Democrats aim to bring forth the legislation through a process called reconciliation, which allows the bill to pass on a straight party-line vote.

“There ain’t going to be an infrastructure bill unless we have the reconciliation bill passed by the United States Senate,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday.

Biden also threw his support behind the two-track legislative strategy, mentioning in his speech that he wants to see the spending bills move “in tandem.”