President Joe Biden must pass this infrastructure bill

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Editor Elect

For the past few weeks, the Biden administration has caused a legislative gridlock because of two bills: his $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act, a wide-ranging social reform and reconciliation bill. According to Yahoo News the infrastructure bill has been passed by the Senate with the support of 19 Republican senators, but it is currently being held up by members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who are refusing to pass the bill unless an agreement is reached on the Build Back Better Act.

Unfortunately, the Congressional Progressive Caucus has two major roadblocks: Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, two Democratic senators from Arizona and West Virginia, respectively. Both are self-described moderates and have expressed that they are afraid of the cost of the bill.

The bill was initially introduced with a potential price tag of $3.5 trillion, but Manchin and Sinema have been negotiating for a price tag around $1.5 trillion, and have indicated that even with these cuts that they may still not vote to pass the bill. This has caused pushback from many senators, most notably Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, which has led to an increasingly public feud between Sanders and Manchin.

What this situation boils down to is the sheer amount of political power that Joe Manchin holds and is a testament to the flaws of our political system. One of the main things that Manchin opposes in this bill is the cost of many of the climate change-related initiatives, including a plan to slash U.S. emissions in half by 2030, a move that would no doubt have a major impact on the coal industry. Joe Manchin, the main reason that this bill is being held back, owns millions of dollars in stock in a coal company that he started in the 1980s and then gave to his son. Every year, Manchin makes an estimated half a million dollars in dividends from these stocks, money he would no doubt be losing if the Build Back Better Act were to pass. Manchin can say that it’s the cost to taxpayer’s wallets that’s holding him back from passing this bill, but it’s plain to see that the real cost he’s afraid of is the cost to his stock portfolio.

Not only is Manchin able to block this bill, but he also sits as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which is pretty crazy to think that someone who owns millions of dollars in coal stocks can also chair that committee. It’s a blatant conflict of interest that exposes the darkest scandal in the heart of Washington: things that are of obvious moral incongruity, yet are also completely legal.

However, not everything about this situation is bad. What you’re seeing now could have never happened 10 years ago. Right now, congressional progressives are wielding legitimate political power and not backing down. The modern left-wing movement in American politics that Bernie Sanders started when he ran for President in 2016 did not end when he withdrew from the 2020 presidential race. President Biden needs to acknowledge the growing support for progressive causes and get these bills passed.