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As liberals increasingly rebuke President Joe Biden for his ongoing negotiations with a bipartisan group of senators, one prominent progressive lawmaker is staying out of the fray.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the biggest name in national progressive politics, has not expressed concern about clean energy policies not making it into a final infrastructure bill. Nor is he among those loudly criticizing the White House for ongoing talks with GOP lawmakers. That’s because as a group of Republican and Democratic senators are trying to craft a bipartisan deal, Sanders is working in the background, helping jumpstart the next reconciliation package that seems likely to serve as the fallback option. And the text of that bill has yet to be written.

From the beginning, Sanders has said Democrats should forgo rounds of negotiations with Republicans on a smaller, traditional infrastructure bill that addresses roads, bridges, and broadband. Instead, he’s argued that Democrats should immediately push a larger bill along party lines.
The White House has been hesitant to abandon talks with centrist Democrats and Republicans, leading a growing number of progressive lawmakers in both chambers to decry the slow pace of negotiations. This past week a handful of Democratic senators shot off warning tweets at the White House, threatening to withhold support for infrastructure bills without climate change provisions included in the one expected to pass with only Democrats. But Sanders didn’t join the chorus.

“He’s focused on building momentum for a reconciliation bill that will be the most consequential legislation for working people enacted since the 1930s,” said a Sanders aide.

Sanders isn’t as concerned as other progressives are about their priorities being left out of the overall infrastructure package because the budget process is only just beginning, the aide added. And Sanders believes strong climate provisions — one of his biggest priorities — will be in a reconciliation bill.

At the same time, Sanders, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, has communicated to the White House that he thinks the bipartisan talks should wrap up, a source familiar with his interactions with the White House said.

The White House is in regular touch with both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sanders about infrastructure priorities, according to a White House official, who described its relationship with Sanders as strong. A Sanders aide also confirmed that the senator is in close touch with the White House and Schumer.



A woman was killed and three other people were injured when a vehicle drove into demonstrators during a protest in the Minneapolis neighborhood where a Black man was fatally shot this month during his attempted arrest by members of a federal task force, police said Monday.

The crash happened at about 11:40 p.m. Sunday in Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood. Witnesses said the driver of an SUV struck a parked car, tossing it into the crowd of demonstrators. Police spokesman John Elder did not confirm that account, and said authorities are still investigating.

Police said protesters pulled the driver from his vehicle and witnesses told police that demonstrators began striking him. The driver was taken into custody and was being treated for injuries at a hospital.

A witness told Minnesota Public Radio that the SUV was going very fast and appeared to accelerate as it got closer to demonstrators who had blocked off a street. D.J. Hooker said the driver struck a car parked across one of the traffic lanes, sending that car flying.

“There was one line of barriers and then a second barrier, and he sped up. He sped up. He went even faster as he approached us. You could hear it … start going even faster as he got close to us,” Hooker said. He told Minnesota Public Radio, “the car went through the air and it hit a young woman.”

Another witness, Brett Williams, said the woman was thrown into a stop light.

The woman’s brother identified her as Deona M. Knajdek. Garrett Knajdek told the Star Tribune his sister would have celebrated her 32nd birthday on Wednesday. He said she had 11- and 13-year-old daughters, and was actively involved in issues surrounding social justice.

“She constantly (was) sacrificing herself for everyone around her,” he said, “no matter the cost, obviously.”

Authorities have not released the names of the driver and those who were injured.

Police said the driver’s motive was not immediately known, but that a preliminary investigation indicated drugs or alcohol may have been a contributing factor.

Besides the woman who died, three other protesters were injured, police said, without describing the extent of their injuries.

Other injuries and deaths have been reported involving vehicles at protests across the U.S. as people have increasingly taken to streets to press their grievances. In Minneapolis, marching onto freeways has become a common tactic in recent years. Last year, a semitrailer rolled into a crowd marching on a closed Minneapolis freeway following George Floyd’s death. No one was seriously injured.

In response to such protests, Republican politicians in several states, including Oklahoma, Florida and Iowa, have sought legal immunity for drivers who hit protesters.


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