Opinion Graphic fall 2020

In August, President Joe Biden delivered on his campaign promise of bipartisanship when he and Senate Democrats compromised with 19 Republican senators to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure bill through the Senate.

The bill had garnered support from 63% of American respondents in a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll.

If the bill becomes law, it will launch the largest investments in U.S. history in certain areas of infrastructure, including public transportation and clean water, according to the White House. It addresses numerous elements of America’s crumbling infrastructure, including roads and bridges, broadband access and the power grid.

Yet once again, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is here to spoil the day. Its members are stubbornly refusing to vote for the bipartisan bill unless Senate and House Democrats agree to pass a separate $3.5 trillion economic package. A vote on the infrastructure bill was scheduled for Sept. 30, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed it because of insufficient support.

An additional investment in “human infrastructure,” the $3.5 trillion would fund housing, health care, education and other social programs.

Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, said Sept. 21 that unless both bills came to the floor, her 96-member caucus would tank the $1 trillion bill.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, argued that House Democrats should refuse to advance the bipartisan bill, unless Congress also passes the $3.5 trillion package, lest it be abandoned later on.

MSNBC opinion columnist Zeeshan Aleem on Friday commended the House progressives for their firm stance and refusal to hold independent votes for the two bills. However, what Aleem neglects to consider is the recurring trend in which stubborn political attitudes, rightly or wrongly, manifest frustration rather than compromise.

Rather than passing bills based on their merits, as they should, progressive Democrats are holding the infrastructure bill hostage to their completely separate wish list of social safety net items.

Regardless of the commendable provisions proposed in the $3.5 trillion social package, including free community college, child care credits and tackling climate change, the problem stems from progressive Democrats who are unwilling to consider legislative priorities unless they get everything they want.

Their political agenda is antithetical to progress because their strategy has resulted in stagnation and inaction. Instead of passing transformative legislation to rebuild our broken roads and other critical infrastructure, they have decided to control all our infrastructure on their terms.

Time and again, when Democrats have the opportunity to show true bipartisanship and move the nation slowly forward, progressives stick their heels in the ground like stubborn animals.

For example, after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, counter-offered $1.5 trillion for social programs expenditures, Jayapal shot the figure down as insufficient to meet her caucus’ goals.

Rather than considering concerns about inflation from exorbitant government spending or the importance of garnering broader support, progressives continue to demonstrate their intent to dictate Congress’ legislative direction with no interest in compromise.

These progressive legislators are more activists than they are lawmakers, petulantly demanding that their needs be met lest they hold the nation hostage.

Congress has the opportunity to invest in American communities and deliver the largest federal infrastructure package in a decade, but the progressive wing conflates a slim Democratic majority with license to thoughtlessly write and sign any kind of bill imaginable.

Senate Democrats only have a majority because Vice President Kamala Harris gives them the tie-breaking vote, while the Democratic House majority is only three out of 435 seats.

Just as it is annoying when centrists like Manchin and Sen. Krysten Sinema, D-Arizona, refuse to participate with Democrats, it is equally annoying when unyielding, inflexible progressives like Sanders, Jayapal and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, hijack the nation’s advancement because the process did not go according to their plans.

The only solution is to vote these progressive out and replace them with Democratic candidates who actually understand and believe in compromise and governance, not throwing fits.

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