Progressive Caucus Chair Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal maintains that child care, Medicare expansion, prescription drug price limits, climate change, immigration, and affordable housing will remain in the slimmed-down social spending bill being negotiated between the White House and congressional Democrats.
But she concedes some programs may have to be altered.
"Those five priorities still need to be in any final bill," Jayapal told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett in this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast. She added, "You can significantly cut down on the price tag by funding some of these programs for a shorter period of time."
Previously, the measure was projected to cost $3.5 trillion, but that number has been cut at the insistence of moderate Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. The support of the two moderates is needed to pass the the social spending bill in the Senate, while progressives are holding up the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill in the House until there's a deal on the social spending bill.
Recently both Manchin and Sinema have been confronted by progressive protesters in public. Jayapal, however, downplayed any intraparty squabbling.
"It is, as you know, a bit of a messy process. I don't think we're in disarray. I don't think we're in drift. I think we're about delivering, and that will happen. We will get it done," Jayapal said of the negotiations. "We all play on the same team."
Jayapal said she's open to means testing social spending bill programs and sees it as an area of agreement unity between moderates and progressives, if they can agree on an approach.
"A lot of the ways in which we've done means testing in this country have been really ineffective. There are ...simple ways to ensure that the richest people do not get the benefits," Jayapal said, adding that she hopes both Manchin and Sinema will support these proposals, given how policies in the American Rescue Plan, passed earlier this year, were also means-tested.
The filibuster has also been a topic of discussion on Capitol Hill, as Jayapal and other progressives have pushed to abolish the Senate cloture rule, which requires 60 votes to end debate on topics and move to a final passage vote. Jayapal said eliminating the filibuster serves the best interest of bipartisanship and democracy.
"My belief is that actually, if you want bipartisanship, what you should do is remove the filibuster, allow the three, four or five Republicans to have the power that they should have in a divided Senate, instead of giving all the power to 40 Republicans who are never going to agree on anything the Democrats want to do," Jayapal said.
- Negotiations on "social infrastructure" bill: "Well, it's not [Progressives]. It's the two senators [Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema] that we're waiting on. And I would say that I've heard that things are moving, but they are more moving more slowly, perhaps, than some of us would like to see."
- Including progressive priorities in a smaller "social infrastructure" bill: "We do believe that you can significantly cut down on the price tag by funding some of these programs for a shorter period of time. Make sure that the benefits are universal and accrue to people immediately, not in three years or five years, but something that people can tangibly feel right away."
- What passing infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill means: "I believe we have to pass those two things if we want to retain our majorities because voters delivered us the House, the Senate, and the White House on promises. And we had incredible turnout from young people from black, brown, indigenous people, from poor people. We got states we never thought we'd get, like Georgia and Arizona, and if we are going to keep people engaged in our democracy, then the ultimate swing voter is the young person or the person who typically would vote Democrat but they're disillusioned that Democrats are going to fight for them. So let's fight for them. Let's get these two bills, and then I believe we'll keep the House, the Senate and the White House."
- Views on Manchin and Sinema within party: "They're Democrats, they're part of the same team. They're part of the, you know, the part of the Democratic Party. We all play on the same team. We've got to get this done as much as our frustrations might be there with each other."
- Congressional Republicans' continued support Trump after January 6: "You even see institutionalists like Chuck Grassley going and people who criticized Trump and blamed Trump for January 6th now sharing the stage with him because they've made a cold political calculation that their staying in power depends on Trump, and therefore they don't care about democracy, and they're going to support the Big Lie."
For more of Major's conversation with Jayapal, download "The Takeout" podcast on Art19, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).
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