John Podesta, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and an influential figure for Democrats in Washington, on Wednesday called on his party lawmakers to slash a $ 3.5 trillion draft social policy plan that carries much of the national agenda from President Biden.
If they don’t, he warned, they risk not passing the legislation – and losing their majority in Congress next year.
In a note sent to every office of a Democratic member of Congress, Mr. Podesta, founder and chairman of the board of the Center for American Progress, pleaded with moderates and progressives in terrible terms to bridge their differences over the project. of law. Party disputes include tax increases, individual spending programs, and the full cost of a plan that would dramatically expand the role of the federal government in education, child care, struggle against climate change, support for workers, poverty reduction, etc.
His message included an emphatic call for progressives to accept a reduced price, as a sign of salute to the party centrists.
“The political reality is clear, given that Democrats have no margin for error in the Senate and limited margin in the House,” he wrote. “We will not guarantee the entire $ 3.5 trillion investment. It is time for Democrats to unite to find the way forward.
But Mr Podesta also had harsh words for moderates who resisted the social safety net, instead pushing for the passage of a bipartisan $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill that was passed. by the Senate and which is due to be voted on in the House next week.
“You either receive both bills or neither – and the prospect of not receiving anything is unreasonable,” he wrote. “It would signal a total and utter failure of our democratic duty, and a reckless abdication of our responsibility. It would define the story of our generation and show that when our time came, we failed, both for Americans today and in the years to come.
A large group of Democratic lawmakers are heading to the White House on Wednesday to strategize with Mr Biden on the fate of the two bills, which is expected to be determined in the coming weeks. Mr Podesta’s warnings reflect growing fear among some Democrats on and off Capitol Hill that the whole effort could collapse, leaving the party with little chance of running in the midterm election and none chance for years to enact ambitious legislation.
“The historical trend clearly shows that Democrats will face serious headwinds next November,” Mr Podesta wrote, “but nothing will guarantee a faster political calculation than if Democrats fail to pass anything “.
Mr Podesta identified the climate provisions of the bill, in particular, as critical at a time when hurricanes and wildfires have hit people across the country and laid bare the realities of a warming planet.
“On the climate crisis in particular, the screen is flashing ‘code red’,” he wrote. “There is no time. There is no next time.