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Democrats disagree over Biden's $1.75 trillion spending framework

NOEL KING, HOST:

All right. While President Biden meets with world leaders in Europe, his party continues to disagree over the $1.75 trillion framework that he unveiled yesterday. The House delayed a vote on that bill until next week while they continue negotiating. Progressive Democrats want assurances that this plan will actually become law. With us now is Congresswoman Cori Bush from Missouri. She is a Democrat and a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Good morning.

CORI BUSH: Good morning.

KING: Do you support this $1.75 trillion plan as it stands now?

BUSH: As it stands, I mean, it's - there are great things in this bill, great things in the bill. There's nothing in the bill that that I see that is harmful. Would I - are there some things that I wanted to see that are not in the bill? Absolutely. I wanted to see paid leave. I wanted Medicaid - Medicare expansion that included dental and vision, as well. But we do have hearing, at least. So there are some things that I wanted to see with it. But as it stands, it's a very good bill. It will help millions of people. And we need this because infrastructure is also education. Infrastructure is housing. Infrastructure is health care.

KING: OK, let's talk about infrastructure. Our colleague Kelsey Snell explained this morning that a majority of progressive Democrats support this new package, like you just explained for the reasons you just explained. But they want assurances that it will become law before they agree to vote on the infrastructure plan that passed the Senate in August. Do you support this strategy, which some people have characterized as kind of holding this framework captive? And if you do, what do you think it accomplishes?

BUSH: So I absolutely, wholeheartedly support it.

KING: OK.

BUSH: And I support it because when I ran for Congress, I said that I wanted to help all of my district. And now that I'm in Congress, our model is to do the absolute most for every person in Missouri's 1st District in St. Louis, starting with those who have the very least. And if we say that I only can support - we'll support the one that's already on the table, that has already been voted out of the Senate. We'll support that one. And we'll - we hope that the two senators, the two Democratic senators that have been in these negotiations - we hope that they will be good-faith actors and, at some point, support this other bill. We can't - I don't trust that.

And the reason why I don't trust that is because right now, this is the time. We have the White House, the Senate. I mean, we have the White House, the Senate and the House. This is the time to get this done. The other thing is this if we switch this around - because some people have said, well, hey, you need to just go ahead and get this, get the infrastructure, the bipartisan infrastructure framework - go ahead and get that voted on. Just go ahead and get that done. Well, if we switch this around and if we had the other bill, if we had to Build Back Better bill, the one that is for child care and home care and housing, you know - if we had that one and it was the other bill, the infrastructure bill, that was the one that we were saying, we really wanted to have that, too, for those people that are saying, no, just go ahead and get us the infrastructure bill, so we can get this - you know, because that's where our - that's really where our interest is. If it was the other way around, would you want us to not fight for your bill, the one that affects you the most? Would you want us to say, no, we'll just go with this one? And would you say, oh, OK, no, we're good? We'll just wait and see if something comes our way.

My work is to do the most for the greatest amount of people, and we have to do that immediately. So I'm a 100% no, I will not vote on the bipartisan infrastructure package without the other bill, without Build Back Better being voted on, as well. And I want to see it voted through the Senate because I don't believe - if we pass the infrastructure package through the House, I don't believe we'll get the other one.

KING: You brought up the word trust and you didn't say that you mistrust your Democratic colleagues, Senators, Cinema and Manchin, but you said you don't trust that that an agreement will go forward if it's left alone. This makes me wonder, how are negotiations with you are more moderate colleagues going at this point? Is there a lot of open mistrust?

BUSH: No, I don't believe that that's what it is. I just think that in any group, there are going to be disagreements and they're going to be different ideas, different experiences, people looking at things from a different lens, different perspectives. We're representing different communities. So I think that it's more that than it is - people keep making it seem like there is all of this turmoil and these, you know - and that's not what it is. There - we are passionate about making sure that we're helping people in different ways.

And for us, as someone who - I'm someone - when I look at what's in this human infrastructure package, when I think about all of the pieces, whether it's child care or the housing, money for higher education, equity for community violence interruption, when I think about that, every single piece of this would've changed my life before I came to Congress - every single thing. And I know that there are so many people that are in our communities that have been saying, why not us? When do we - when does the investment come our way?

KING: Democratic Congresswoman Cori Bush from Missouri, thank you for taking the time this morning. We appreciate it.

BUSH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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