- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called on Joe Biden to take action on a number of Democratic priorities.
- “Time is running out – we need to move and use alternative paths,” she added.
- The comments come after Sen. Joe Manchin sunk negotiations over Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday urged President Joe Biden to take action on a number of Democratic priorities after moderate Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia sunk negotiations over the president’s Build Back Better agenda on Sunday.
“Biden needs to lean on his executive authority now. He has been delaying and underutilizing it so far. There is an enormous amount he can do on climate, student debt, immigration, cannabis, health care, and more,” the New York Democrat tweeted.
“Time is running out – we need to move and use alternative paths,” she added.
The progressive lawmaker also singled out the issue of student loan debt, calling on Biden to either cancel the debt or extend the moratorium on student loan payments, scheduled to restart on February 1, 2022 following a nearly two-year pause since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
“With BBB delayed, Child Tax Credits will expire and student loans will restart within a matter of weeks. Working families could lose thousands of $/mo just as prices are rising,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a separate tweet. “That alone is reason for @POTUS to act on student loans ASAP – w/ either moratorium or cancellation.”
Ocasio-Cortez, along with a slew of Democrats, have expressed outrage over Manchin’s decision to step away from Biden’s nearly $2 trillion spending package, which would dramatically expand the country’s social safety net and tackle the climate change crisis, known as the Build Back Better Act.
Manchin on Sunday abruptly announced in an interview on Fox News that he can’t support the legislation after months of negotiations.
“I can’t get there. This is a no,” the centrist Democrat said, citing concerns about inflation and the national debt level.
The House passed its version of the spending bill last month. But Biden needs all 50 Democratic senators on board for the bill to reach his desk. With Manchin’s opposition and no Republicans in support of the package, the legislation faces an impossible path forward in the evenly divided Senate, unless Manchin chooses to restart negotiations.
The White House fiercely defended Biden’s spending plan and ripped into Manchin’s decision to pull out of negotiations.
“If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in the statement.
Ocasio-Cortez echoed on Monday that Manchin’s defiance represents “an egregious breach of the trust of the president” and called for congressional Democratic leadership to find a way forward on the bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a Monday letter to his colleagues that the upper chamber “cannot give up” on the legislation and will continue working “until we get something done.”
AOC has previously pushed for increased executive action
When it comes to a number of progressive priorities, Ocasio-Cortez has held firm Biden should take advantage of the executive power he has to get them done. For example, she told the New York Times in November that there is an “enormous amount of executive action” Biden could be utilizing to address student debt, climate change, and immigration.
The past months were spent “watching us just hand the pen to Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema” when Biden could have used his executive authority to progress his agenda himself, Ocasio-Cortez added.
When it comes to student-loan forgiveness, Ocasio-Cortez, along with leading lawmakers on the issue like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Schumer, have maintained that Biden can cancel student debt broadly “with a stroke of the pen.”
“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,” Ocasio-Cortez said in October.