Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed Republicans for not supporting President Biden’s social spending bill, arguing that GOP lawmakers worry the proposed policies will erode their political power and fear "increased class consciousness and racial consciousness."
Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks were made in response to a question during a virtual panel discussion on the benefits of Biden’s "Build Back Better Act," a massive spending plan that has divided progressive and moderate Democrats and drawn universal scorn from Republicans.
One attendee asked the panel why they felt Republicans were "so upset" about the bill, prompting Ocasio-Cortez to argue they were "upset about a changing country."
"I think they’re upset about the fact that a lot of our developments recently, whether it’s the re-emergence of grassroots movements in the last four to five years in a way that we haven’t seen in a very long time and the challenge of corporate power in the United States and increased class consciousness and racial consciousness in this country is seriously disrupting the status quo of American politics," Ocasio-Cortez said.
"They are scared and they are angry and they are doing absolutely everything possible to ensure that we disenfranchise the very people and communities that have the power of changing this country for the better," she added. "And that’s why they are not even considering voting for this."
Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT., are among the most prominent progressive voices in favor of the full spending bill, which contains massive investments in sustainable energy, education, Medicare, affordable housing and childcare.
Sanders, who led the panel discussion, also criticized Republicans for opposing the plan.
"There’s a lot of attention going onto Sens. Manchin and Sinema, legitimately so, but we have ignored the fact that there is not one Republican in the Senate, not one Republican in the House, who is voting for childcare, pre-K, climate, lower prescription drug costs, paid family and medical leave. Not one," Sanders said.
Stiff opposition from moderate Democrats such as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has forced Biden and progressive allies to cut down the bill, which was originally envisioned to cost $3.5 trillion. Biden reportedly lowered his spending target to between $1.75 trillion and $1.9 trillion this week, and several programs favored by progressive are said to be in danger of being removed or drastically reduced in the final bill.
Sanders did not address the current state of negotiations during the event. He reiterated his stance that the full spending bill would make long-overdue changes that would benefit the working class.
"This is not radical stuff. This is finally doing right by the American working class and having the courage to stand up to big-money interests," Sanders said.
Republicans contend the measure amounts to vast new social spending that would increase dependency on government and that the country cannot afford.