New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez praised President Joe Biden and his administration Friday, sharing that she’s been impressed with Biden’s invitations to work and collaborate with progressive lawmakers.
“One thing that I will say is that I do think that the Biden administration and President Biden have exceeded expectations that progressives had,” Ocasio-Cortez said during a virtual town hall. “I’ll be frank, I think a lot of us expected a lot more conservative administration.”
Ocasio-Cortez, a vocal member of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, also said Biden’s willingness to collaborate with more progressive members “really impressed” her, and despite areas of disagreements, the administration’s conduct has been “not just in good faith but active incorporation of progressive legislation,” Ocasio-Cortez added.
“Biden announced that he plans to cut emissions by half by 2030,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that two years ago it was almost unthinkable to think that Joe Biden would be making an announcement like that.”
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Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., echoed similar sentiments. Bowmen told Newsweek he feels the White House and Biden “are more progressive than they’ve ever been in this moment,” citing the leadership of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-V.t., Ocasio-Cortez and other progressive House members for the shift.
Despite her praise of the nearly 100-day-old Biden administration, the New York congresswoman also said that it’s still too early to determine whether future Biden’s policies will receive progressive support.
“I think it’s been good so far, but I still think it’s quite early because when it comes to some of things that have been passed it’s pretty much been the COVID bill,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We’re in the process of shaping the infrastructure bill, but I think the infrastructure bill will be a key indicator if the administration is keeping or raising its ambitions or if that (American Rescue Plan) was a one and done situation, and we’re going smaller.”
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While the passing of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill despite no Republican support was a major feat for Biden, providing millions of Americans with $1,400 stimulus checks, funding for vaccine distribution and the reopening of schools and colleges, many progressives weren’t thrilled with the final version of the bill, including the lack of a $15 minimum wage.
Ocasio-Cortez said she had some concerns, especially regarding Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill.
“My concern is that with the actual plan that they’ve presented, it doesn’t have the numbers necessary to actually do that they say they want to do,” Ocasio-Cortez told constituents. “So, that’s why we have been on the side of trying to pressure the administration to be a little bit more ambitious.”
Biden’s infrastructure plan — the American Jobs Plan — is divided into four main categories: Transportation infrastructure; quality of life at home; help for caregivers; and research, development and manufacturing. In addition to investing in roads, railways, homes, schools and underground water infrastructure, the bill also would focus on improving access to affordable care for the elderly and people with disabilities.
While Ocasio-Cortez said she thinks that Biden’s current bill is too small, she does think his “vision was right.”