- Former Obama Counselor John Podesta urged Biden to drop infrastructure negotiations with the GOP.
- Joined by other progressive leaders, Podesta argued economic recovery is too urgent to stall.
- This comes on a week when Biden is meeting with different groups of lawmakers to talk infrastructure.
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This week, President Joe Biden has been entrenched in bipartisan infrastructure talks, from meeting with the most powerful congressional leaders to a group of Republicans pushing a smaller infrastructure plan.
But progressive leaders are worried these talks are slowing down urgent efforts to repair the economy and the climate.
On Wednesday, John Podesta, the founder of the left-leaning Center for American Progress and former counselor to President Barack Obama, sent a letter to Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, urging them to quickly pass Biden’s $4 trillion infrastructure plan.
The letter, which was also signed by the heads of the Service Employees International Union and the Sierra Club, said that they are “concerned by proposals being made in Congress that could delay or weaken the economic recovery investments that are necessary to truly build back better.”
“Now is the time to realize a bold agenda for the American people without delay or dilution,” they wrote. “Facing deep economic insecurity, systemic oppression, polluted air and water, and climate disasters, millions of people across the country urgently need solutions as big as the crises we face. Those who argue for small-minded measures are on the wrong side of history.”
On Wednesday, Biden hosted the “Big Four” – House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Pelosi, and Schumer – in the Oval Office to discuss his infrastructure plan, and following the meeting, Pelosi said she was “more optimistic” about passing a plan in a bipartisan way.
On Thursday, Biden is meeting with the Republicans who introduced a $568 billion counter-proposal to his plan, led by West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, which Democrats have called “a slap in the face” and “a joke.”
Before the Wednesday meeting, Biden told reporters that the purpose of the meeting was to “see whether we can reach some consensus on a compromise,” but Podesta told Politico that talking “only works for so long.”
“The clock is ticking,” he said. “Would we rather just do one big package for reconciliation? You bet.”
But even going the reconciliation route, which Democrats used to pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package without Republicans votes, could be difficult. Moderate Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who also met with Biden this week, have both said they will not go along with Democratic plans to pass infrastructure unless there are bipartisan efforts.
The White House has not provided a strict deadline for passing infrastructure, but Pelosi said on Wednesday a bill will “absolutely” be brought to the House floor by July 4.