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Tlaib offers stinging critique of centrist Democrats following Biden address

Rep. Rashida Tlaib  (D-Mich.) offered a stinging critique of centrist Democrats following President Biden’s State of the Union address, showing Americans what unfiltered progressive ideology could look like during a time of national unrest.

“No one — no one — fought harder for President Biden’s agenda than progressives,” Tlaib said on Tuesday night, praising the president’s grand left-wing vision and early momentum in the White House.

To Tlaib, that promise for an agenda that benefits what she dubbed a “working families majority,” has diminished at the hands of a few antagonists on Capitol Hill, not the president himself. 

Some in the party’s moderate wing blame the stalling of Build Back Better — which Biden rebranded as “building a better America” — on liberals like Tlaib who pushed for a multitrillion-dollar price tag and a slate of left-wing priorities on climate and social programs.

Progressives, meanwhile, maintain that it is centrists who have created a legislative backlog. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) would not commit to voting in favor of the bill if brought to the Senate floor, a hardball tactic that liberal lawmakers have bemoaned for months.   

Tlaib criticized Republicans and “just enough corporate-backed obstructionists” in the Democratic Party to tank the efforts to pass the bill last year. 

Tlaib, a two-term congresswoman who represents part of Detroit, is a particularly divisive choice among Democrats to succeed the president’s hourlong speech. 

Unlike Biden, she often spars passionately with Republican lawmakers and has caught the ire of vocal centrists in the House and Senate, who insist that she has hampered Congress’ ability to move their line items and has made Biden look bad on the public stage. Some even call her “radical.”

Appearing unconcerned by the frustration festering within her party towards the die-hard left, the Muslim “Squad” member spoke about the need to make the United States a nation that benefits regular people over a small selection of prominent and wealthy people. 

Tlaib sought to direct the focus back to the same goals progressives have pursued for months, like paid leave, free community college, funding for elder care, clean energy and jobs, and affordable housing. She also mentioned nixing the filibuster, another hot-button issue where Manchin and Sinema refused to budge.

“We must abolish it in the Senate,” she said.

Tlaib also sought to address the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which progressives adamantly worked to help delink from the bigger social safety net package. 

“Some important parts of the President’s agenda became law with the infrastructure bill, but we campaigned on doing even more,” she said. “Roads and bridges are critical, but so are childcare and prescription drugs — and we shouldn’t have to choose.”

The president and the Michigan progressive each used a portion of their addresses to push for other policies where they have found commonality, including increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 and cracking down on Wall Street.

“Those policies I named, they are popular,” she said. 

Still, the speech comes as progressives face increasing pushback from moderates who say they are taking the country in the wrong direction before the midterms. 

Biden veered away from other areas where some liberals have doubled down, like achieving dramatic police reform through “defunding” forces across the country. 

“We should all agree: The answer is not to defund the police,” Biden said, sending a clear signal from the lectern where he falls on the slogan. “The answer is to fund the police with the resources and training they need to protect our communities.”

Tags Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema Rashida Tlaib
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