Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va., told Newsmax that progressive Democrats in the House are ''throwing moderates under the bus'' by pushing for higher spending bills for infrastructure and social safety net programs.
''I've never seen the progressives control the Democratic caucus as much as they are right now,'' Cline said on Wednesday's ''Spicer & Co.'' ''They are really throwing the moderates under the bus, and I don't see it changing at this point.''
Cline was referring to House progressive Democrats who are threatening to withhold their votes on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan unless they can also vote on a $3.2 trillion budget reconciliation bill.
The latter contains several key Democratic agenda items such as expanding Medicare and Medicaid, providing free college tuition, universal prekindergarten, and several climate change initiatives in line with the Green New Deal.
''It's the progressives, the ‘squad,' and they're pushing as hard as they can to get as big a piece of this remaining reconciliation bill as they can before they lose the House in 2022,'' Cline said. ''That's looming large.''
The ''squad'' refers to outspoken progressive Democratic caucus members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, who are demanding that both bills be voted on at the same time instead of separately.
While progressives want to see both bills passed, centrist Democrats including Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona say they will not vote for the larger bill until its price is taken down by at least half, to around $1.5 trillion.
Because Democrats have only an eight-seat majority in the House and a virtual split Senate 48-50, with two independents voting with the Democrats, neither side can afford to lose votes on either bill.
Cline said that in addition to Manchin and Sinema in the Senate, about half a dozen moderate Democrats in the House now want the Congressional Budget Office to ''score'' the bills to see how much they would cost before voting on them.
Especially after losing the governor's seat in Virginia on Tuesday night, Cline said the Democrats may see the handwriting on the wall for losing their majority in Congress in the 2022 midterm elections and may try to push both pieces through to show they can get things done.
''Unfortunately, when given the choice between spending no taxpayer dollars and spending trillions in taxpayer dollars, Democrats usually choose the latter, and choose to spend trillions in taxpayer dollars,'' he said.
''Unfortunately, at this point, it looks like it may still pass, but we're going to keep fighting it, keep explaining to the public, like we did in Virginia, exactly what's in this bill, and how dangerous it is for our America.''
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