Nov 21, 2021 - Axios on HBO

Rashida Tlaib warns of “corporate Dems” killing Biden bill

Rep. Rashida Tlaib is seen being interviewed by Jonathan Swan for "Axios on HBO."
Rep. Rashida Tlaib speaks with Axios' Jonathan Swan. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) told "Axios on HBO" she's "fearful" of what will happen to President Biden's big social spending bill in the Senate because "corporate Democrats" — including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — are serving special interests.

Driving the news: "I know that they've been influenced and guided by folks that don't have the best interests of the American people in mind," the Squad member said.

  • Tlaib spoke Friday morning, shortly after the House passed the sweeping $1.75 trillion "Build Back Better" bill.
  • "I'm fearful" of what might happen as the Senate takes up the bill, she added. "I'm fearful that those groups are gonna guide this agenda. It's gonna be the people that are gonna continue to profit off of human suffering."
  • "We have corporate Dems," Tlaib said.

Asked whether she was talking about Manchin and Sinema, Tlaib said: "It's those two, but I think there are some others that ... have issues with the prescription drug negotiations there."

  • "And so I can't say it's just those two. They seem to be leading the fight, but I wouldn't be surprised if folks are hiding behind them."
  • Spokespeople for Manchin and Sinema did not respond to requests for comment.

Between the lines: Manchin and Sinema hold outsize leverage over the negotiations. According to recent polling by MBE Research, Manchin is around twice as popular in West Virginia as President Biden — and his constituents are more than comfortable with him opposing large spending bills.

  • The two senators have already substantially reduced the size of the bill from the $6 trillion progressives initially discussed — and the $3.5 trillion Biden originally proposed.
  • Sinema also has dramatically limited tax hikes that could be used to pay for additional spending.
  • Manchin's also signaled he wants further changes on the spending side.
  • Progressives like Tlaib are nervous as they wonder how many more of their priorities will be slashed.

Highlights from the interview:

  • Tlaib said the filibuster was an instrument of racism.
  • She replied "I don't know," when asked why more than half of Senate Democrats, including now-Vice President Kamala Harris, signed a 2017 letter to Senate leaders urging them to preserve the legislative filibuster.
  • Tlaib also discussed what the "Build Back Better" bill means for her constituents in the third-poorest district in America; her desire to slash funding for police departments and reimagine public safety; and a 2020 proposal she endorsed that would empty federal prisons within 10 years.

📺 Watch: Tlaib on the filibuster.

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