Mar 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: AOC's private audience with Ron Klain

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley are seen speaking during a congressional hearing.

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain met quietly with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman and other progressive lawmakers this week to discuss the filibuster, minimum wage and other issues, people familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: The private, in-person meeting demonstrates the White House’s commitment to staying in close contact with some of the House’s most outspoken members, even if the parties don’t always share the same strategy to achieve common goals.

  • Klain didn’t make any promises to oppose or ultimately abolish the current filibuster rules.
  • He did reaffirm that President Biden was committed to raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
  • The lawmakers, including Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Andy Levin (D-Mich.), agreed to a good working relationship going forward with planned additional meetings.

The intrigue: Last week, Klain met with the official leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, including the chair, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).

  • Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman, both of New York, along with their two other colleagues, had a separate meeting scheduled, but it was moved to this week.
  • Ocasio-Cortez has previously gone out of her way to praise Klain, responding to news of his appointment in November by tweeting: “Good news and an encouraging choice.”

The big picture: The existence of a backchannel between the White House and the party’s most prominent progressive could help the president in his next big legislative push: asking Congress to spend an additional $3 trillion on infrastructure and healthcare.

  • Biden is also slowly moving toward the progressive's position on the filibuster, saying during his news conference Thursday that while he first wants to make incremental reforms, there may be a point where he’s open to doing more.
  • “Let's deal with the abuse first," he said. "If we have to, if there’s complete lockdown and chaos as a consequence of the filibuster, then we’ll have to go beyond what I’m talking about.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the home state of Rep. Jayapal.

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