Ilhan Omar Says ‘Conservative Democrats’ Are Holding Progressives ‘Hostage’

Omar's remarks come as Democrats clash over Biden's $3.5 trillion social spending bill.
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 23: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) participates in a panel discussion during the Muslim Collective For Equitable Democracy Conference and Presidential Forum at the The National Housing Center July 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. As a member of a group of four freshman Democratic women of color, known informally as 'The Squad,' Omar has been targeted by President Donald Trump with controversial Tweets during the last week. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) on Thursday accused “conservative Democrats” of holding progressives like herself “hostage.”

Omar made the remarks on “The Dean Obeidallah Show” on Thursday, saying that more conservative members of her party are to blame for slowing down the passage of President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending package.

“What’s gonna happen if you can’t have a vote on Monday, on the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, or some version of that? Is there going to be a vote on this bipartisan loan, is that actually gonna happen?” Dean Obeidallah asked Omar on his show.

Omar, who serves as the Congressional Progressive Caucus whip, responded that she believes more than half of the progressive caucus is ready to “vote this bill down if there is a change in strategy.”

“Senate progressive leaders put out a statement today reminding conservative Democrats that there was a deal made, and the deal was that we will support the infrastructure bill if they supported the reconciliation budget resolution,” Omar said.

“If they go back on their deal, we’re going back on our deal,” she vowed. “And I don’t think anybody wants that to happen because it doesn’t benefit any one of us.”

Biden’s $3.5 trillion social spending bill has been the subject of infighting among progressive and more moderate Democrats. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), the Senate’s most moderate Democrat, has said he will not vote for the legislation. Meanwhile, some progressive Democrats like Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), are saying they will not support a spending bill that is less than $3.5 trillion.

“I and many progressives continue to remind our caucus and senators that the Biden agenda is our agenda, is the agenda of the people,” Omar said.

“Progressives … have made lots of compromises to get us here, and you know, we are currently being held hostage by conservative Democrats who are doing the bidding of Big Pharma, Big Oil, and Wall Street,” the congresswoman added.

“But I am optimistic that we will overcome and we will deliver on behalf of the American people,” she concluded.

Biden’s mammoth spending bill spreads the spending out over a decade, unlike last year’s emergency COVID relief bills, which mostly included immediate disbursements of aid to help Americans weather the pandemic.

“We don’t have the need to rush into this and get it done within one week because there’s some deadline we’re meeting or someone’s going to fall through the cracks,” Manchin said earlier this month.

“I want to make sure that children are getting taken care of, that people are basically having an opportunity to go back to work. We have 11 million jobs that we haven’t filled, 8 million people still unemployed. Something’s not matching up there,” the West Virginia senator continued.

The fight over this part of Biden’s agenda comes as Biden is coming off a difficult month for his administration, during which he had to weather several negative headlines and sinking job approval numbers.

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