AOC praises Biden administration, says it has surpassed progressives’ expectations

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez praised President Joe Biden

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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.”

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.”

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.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey have reintroduced the Green New Deal, the sweeping climate change and economic justice plan that Republicans have used to paint Democrats as radical socialists.

The proposal is a redux of the same resolution the two lawmakers introduced in 2019, calling not just for a decarbonization of the economy but also a fundamental reshaping of the nation’s social safety net to steer substantially more government help to low-income and minority communities.

The 10-year mobilization plan calls for free higher education for all Americans, “affordable, safe, and adequate” housing, an expansion of millions more union jobs, and high-quality health care.

“Not only do we refuse to leave any community behind but those who have been left behind come first,” Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said during a Capitol Hill news conference Tuesday. “We’re going to transition to a 100% carbon-free economy that is more unionized, more just, more dignified and that guarantees more health care and housing than we’re ever had before. That’s our goal.”

Although the resolution has more than 100 co-sponsors in the House, there’s no indication congressional leaders in either chamber will bring it to the floor for a vote any time soon.

The reintroduction of the measure comes the same week President Joe Biden will host 40 world leaders for a virtual climate summit on Thursday and Friday. The summit will include Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi King Salman.

This week’s summit is meant to signal a renewed U.S. commitment to leading the global fight against climate change after four years in which the Trump administration played down the threat.

A United Nations report issued in December said the world isn’t doing nearly enough to rein in fossil fuel production to the level necessary to halt “catastrophic” levels of global warming.

Countries around the world are poised to pump out over 120% more fossil fuels than needed to meet the Paris Climate Agreement that the U.S. just rejoined. The report said that to meet the Paris goals, countries would need to wind down fossil fuel production by 6% a year over the coming decade.