Progressives Urge Joe Biden to Ditch Republicans, Push Infrastructure Forward

Two leading progressive have called on Democratic leaders to press on with infrastructure spending plans without support from Republicans, as talks between the GOP and the White House continued on Wednesday.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, and Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal, of Washington's 7th congressional district, both said on Wednesday that Republicans have not been cooperative.

The comments come as President Joe Biden has been in negotiations with Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, of West Virginia, in hopes of a bipartisan deal.

"If Republicans don't want to cooperate and help us seriously address the many crises we're facing today, then, yes, we have to move forward without them to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create millions of good-paying, union jobs," Sanders tweeted.

Alongside the tweet, the senator shared a video of himself being interviewed by CNN's Wolf Blitzer. In the clip, Sanders defended the spending Democrats want to include in an infrastructure bill.

Republicans have criticized the proposals and instead want to focus on what they've called "traditional" infrastructure, such as roads and bridges.

Meanwhile, Jayapal, who is chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told Truthout on Tuesday that Biden should ditch Republicans and push for the infrastructure bill Democrats want.

"It's time to go big, bold, and fast on an infrastructure plan that repairs bridges and roads — but also guarantees paid leave and child care," Jayapal said. "The GOP isn't going to meet us halfway. It's time to go alone — and get this done."

Jayapal shared the article on Twitter on Wednesday and reiterated her position, saying: "It's time to get this done. Republicans wouldn't even vote for survival checks. We know they won't work with us on this. No more delays — let's deliver."

If Republicans don't want to cooperate and help us seriously address the many crises we're facing today, then, yes, we have to move forward without them to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create millions of good-paying, union jobs. pic.twitter.com/O8zySD4pRm

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 3, 2021

Biden initially proposed spending of $2.3 trillion on infrastructure but later reduced the proposal to $1.7 trillion. Republicans sent the White House a $928 billion counteroffer last week, according to CNBC.

There is also disagreement over how it will be paid for, with Biden favoring an increase in the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to at least 25 percent and reduce underpayments. Republicans instead want to repurpose COVID-19 relief funds.

On Wednesday, Biden had a "constructive and frank conversation" with Capito and "the two agreed to reconnect on Friday," according to a White House statement.

Capito has been working hard to secure an infrastructure deal and she told Fox News on Sunday an agreement was possible.

"I think we can get to real compromise, absolutely, because we're both still in the game," Capito said. "We realize this is not easy. I think we bring every idea that's on the table into the negotiations to see how we can achieve this and get it across the threshold."

Democrats could potentially pass an infrastructure bill through budget reconciliation - the same process they used to pass the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. This would require the support of all 50 Democratic senators in the evenly-divided chamber.

Newsweek has asked Bernie Sanders, Pramila Jayapal and the White House for comment.

Senator Bernie Sanders Talks to Reporters
Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) talks to reporters in the Senate subway on his way to the fourth day of the Senates second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol on February 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. Sanders has said Democrats should pass an infrastructure bill without Republican support. Samuel Corum/Getty Images