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Former President Donald Trump on Friday called progressive Democrats “a true powerhouse” and predicted a challenge to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s senate seat by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
“The progressives gain far more power with the legislation being currently talked about by failing than if it passes,” Trump said in a statement. “It makes them a true powerhouse. Next up, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-N.Y., running against (Senate Majority Leader) Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., for his US Senate Seat!”
Trump’s comments came as Democrats found themselves at odds over two separate spending bills totaling about $6 trillion.
Progressives say they won’t support the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill unless it is “linked” to a larger $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that contains several key elements of Democratic President Joe Biden’s agenda, including expanding Medicaid and Medicare, universal pre-K childcare, and free community college tuition.
With razor-thin majorities, about eight votes in the House, and an even 50-50 split in the Senate with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote, Democrats need to all be on the same page for either piece of legislation to pass.
Republicans have said they would withdraw the nine or so votes in the Senate supporting the infrastructure bill if the budget bill is not killed and are also forcing Democrats to go it alone to raise the nation’s debt limit.
Many on the progressive side of the party have encouraged AOC to challenge Schumer, who faces re-election in 2022.
When asked about that possibility by CNN reporter Dana Bash in August, the progressive firebrand said that she is only concentrating on what needs to be done at the moment and is not planning her political career ahead.
“I know it drives everybody nuts, but the way that I really feel about this and the way that I really approach my politics and my political career is that I do not look at things and I do not set my course positionally,” Ocasio-Cortez said during the interview.
“And I know there’s a lot of people who do not believe that, but I really, I can’t operate the way that I operate and do the things that I do in politics while trying to be, aspiring to other things or calculating to other things.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., pushed back several deadlines for voting on the spending bills this week as she tries to wrangle enough support to pass both.
If both items were to fail, it would mean a huge setback to the Democrats agenda, and to Biden.