Following the advancement of the bipartisan infrastructure package, one which drastically reduced the commitment in President Joe Biden’s original American Jobs Plan to combat climate change, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made a bold claim: “As Majority Leader, I will not pass an infrastructure package that does not reduce carbon pollution at a scale commensurate with the urgent climate crisis we face. And that’s exactly what Democrats will do.” </p>



That came after Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s obnoxious bombshell announcement that she wasn’t going to vote for final passage for a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. She said that the moment the bipartisan agreement was announced, even before the Senate voted, as if she just couldn’t wait to shiv her fellow Democrats. She said she wouldn’t vote against bringing the bill to the floor, but that she would not vote for a package that big—though she did not explain what in that package Democrats have been talking about she is so opposed to. That’s not hugely surprising, Sinema doesn’t do policy, she does theater.</p>

No one among Senate Democrats reacted directly to Sinema’s posturing, but Sen. Joe Manchin pretty much went out of his way to make sure he is not associated with her. </p>


That “keeping an open mind” and “respect for my colleagues” is pretty much a direct burn from Manchin. Since there are so few opportunities to actually say this, here’s the perfect time: “thank you, Joe Manchin.”</p>

However, Senate Democrats already are talking about what can come out of that $3.5 trillion bill, and one potential cut, according to sources to The Hill, is remarkably stupid: fighting the next pandemic. They’re considering cutting it from the $30 billion the White House proposed to as little as $5 billion. While the nation is still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 600,000 Americans, public health advocates are incensed at that suggestion.</p>

While the sources for this story are anonymous, the alarm of these advocates seems to confirm it, and this obviously isn’t the first anyone has heard of the issue. They’ve been lobbying to make sure the full $30 billion is included. “We’ve been meeting with offices across the Hill to try and make sure they hear this message,” said Adriane Casalotti, chief of public and government affairs at the National Association of County and City Health Officials. “We don’t want to find ourselves unprepared for the next crisis.”</p>

“It’s so stunning because if there was ever a teachable moment that we need to invest in public health, it is now,” Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Obama administration, told The Hill. “We will not have another moment like this in our lifetimes.” </p?

Sen. Patty Murray is fighting for the full amount. She highlights polling from Data for Progress finding 71% of voters support the full $30 billion for pandemic preparedness. “Obviously that’s a critical funding pot; we’ll see where we get,” she told The Hill.
That’s just one element of this big package that can’t afford to be sacrificed. President Biden’s American Jobs Plan was reduced to about a quarter of his original vision in the bipartisan plan, and much of what he was trying to do on climate needs to be picked up here. There is also some tremendously great stuff planned for that $3.5 trillion: free pre-school and two years of tuition-free community college for, well, everyone; the expansion of home and community-based health care; a Medicaid expansion proposal to get around the refusal by state Republican lawmakers to expand the program, leaving some 4 million low-income Americans uninsured; the Civilian Climate Corps based on FDR’s depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps, to create jobs for people planting trees, restoring public lands, dealing with the effects of climate change on critical habitats and water systems.</p>
Everything that Democrat have talked about doing is popular with American voters. The latest CBS News/You Gov survey, released earlier this month, shows solid approval for the proposal overall—59% support to 41% disapproval—but massive support for the individual components of it; 87% approving more federal spending on hard infrastructure; 73% of support expanding rural broadband; and 71% support more spending on child and elder care.</p>
Schumer and all the other Democrats need to take a hard line with Sinema. One Democrat even told reporters that they agreed to vote yes on advancing the bipartisan bill with the “understanding it was a precondition for Sinema/Manchin support for the $3.5 trillion Dem package.” That’s the kind of congressional agreement that everyone operates under in the House and Senate. Sinema is breaking it. She veered off on this bipartisan plan, so she doesn’t get to be McConnell’s tool in scuttling this one. She got her reward yesterday from McConnell for her statement against the Democrats’ bill. “I was certainly pleased,” he told reporters. “She is very courageous.”</p>
Sinema also needs to answer questions about what in all of that she’s opposed to, what she’s proposing to cut. That’s especially true back in her home state of Arizona, which happens to be both on fire and in danger of losing its primary source of water this summer.

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