It is a very, very big deal that last week the House Progressive Caucus, in alliance with almost all other House Democrats, defeated the effort by “moderates”—really, corporatists—to pass a problematic, Senate Democrats-and-some-Republicans infrastructure bill. Doing so would have made it very unlikely that the much more significant Build Back Better/reconciliation bill would have been passed. This is the one that addresses climate, child care, housing, education, health care and more.
For months there has been an open, public agreement among the White House and House and Senate leadership that both of these bills needed to pass together. It is that agreement that Manchin, Sinema and about 4% of the House Democrats have been trying to derail.
There is one reason, and one reason only, that they failed: the willingness of the Progressive Caucus to stand firm. Congresswoman Pramilla Jayapal, chair of that 100-person caucus, and others in PC leadership and The Squad didn’t waver in their position that if a vote was taken on that infrastructure bill, they would vote it down. And because they did, Biden ultimately got behind their position and reaffirmed that both of those bills must go forward together.
Hopefully, both of them will be passed this month. If it takes longer than that, so be it.
It is a very big deal that there is now a strong, organized, progressive force within the Democratic Party on Capitol Hill. How did all of this happen?
Here’s how I wrote about it my just-published book, 21st Century Revolution:*
“Over the last several years, a number of concrete developments have convinced me that, right now, our main focus should be to run strong progressives within the Democratic Party. What are those developments?
-the tactical decision of Independent Senator and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders in 2015 to run for President as a Democrat;
-the massive positive response to his campaign;
-the emergence of an on-going organization, Our Revolution, out of that campaign with organized groups in hundreds of localities;
-the Congressional victories via the Democratic Party route of very progressive people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Talib; and, last but not least,
-the very strong campaign of Bernie Sanders for President in 2019/2020, as well as Elizabeth Warren.”
It was all of these electoral developments that laid the basis for the victory the US American people won against the corporatists last week on Capitol Hill.
Without question, the grassroots progressive movement needs to keep focusing on Sinema, Manchin and the 10 House corporatists. They need to feel unrelenting, consistent, day after day pressure until we win this important federal legislative victory.
In addition, we need visible street heat! Fortunately, there’s a well-organized week of action in DC coming up next week focused on climate and environmental justice, the People Vs. Fossil Fuels week of action. Each day, Monday through Friday, hundreds of people will be risking arrest, at the White House Monday through Thursday and then at the Capitol on Friday in a youth-led action. It is a realistic possibility, depending upon how the police play it, that 1,000 or more people could be arrested next week. We will be calling for two things: that President Biden issue an executive order declaring a climate emergency, and that he move to stop approving fossil fuel projects and speed the end of the fossil fuel era.
There’s still time to sign up and make plans to take part in one or more of these days of action. Through determined action in the streets and relentless pressure on the suites, this fall can be a time of important, badly-needed victories. Let’s do it!
Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and president of 350NJ-Rockland. Past writings and other information, including about Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution, two books published by him in 2020 and 2021, can be found at https://tedglick.com. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.