Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reiterated her call for President Biden to cancel student debt Friday after moderate Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, forced significant cuts to programs favored by progressives in the "Build Back Better Act."
The framework agreement for Biden’s social spending bill outlines $1.75 trillion in spending over 10 years, a significant downgrade from the $3 trillion that the president and prominent progressives originally sought for the legislation. Ocasio-Cortez took a shot at Manchin while addressing the scaled-back bill in response to a question from one of her Instagram followers.
"I think given how much BBB has been slashed there is more opportunity than ever to bring the heat on Biden to cancel student loans," Ocasio-Cortez said. "He doesn't need Manchin's permission for that and now that his agenda is thinly sliced he needs to step up his executive action game and show his commitment to deliver for people. We need to get this done."
Manchin and fellow moderate Kyrsten Sinema were key holdouts during negotiations on the spending bill, with both senators balking at its cost. As a result, several progressive-backed social programs and climate initiatives were trimmed or entirely cut from the bill.
Ocasio-Cortez has frequently criticized Manchin during the negotiations, accusing the West Virginia senator in September of having "weekly huddles" with fossil fuel industry lobbyists. Manchin denied the allegation.
Manchin and Sinema each expressed their support for the framework agreement, though they have yet to formally endorse the legislation. Meanwhile, the House was forced to delay a vote on the separate Senate bipartisan infrastructure bill after progressives said they would only vote for both pieces of legislation if they were run together.
Ocasio-Cortez and several other Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, have urged Biden for months to cancel student debt by executive order. However, Biden himself and others have questioned whether he has the authority to issue such an order.