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Rep. Omar, a progressive member of Congress, approves of a new tax plan

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

All right. So for more, we are joined now by Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. She's a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Congresswoman, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

ILHAN OMAR: Thank you so much for having me. Good morning to you.

MARTIN: Let's begin with this tax proposal. Your Democratic colleagues unveiled a new 15% minimum corporate tax on the income of large corporations making over a billion dollars. Are you on board with this?

OMAR: Yes. And as Kelsey was just saying, you know, we're still looking over some of the proposals that were put out last night. The Progressive Caucus is pretty excited about some of these proposals. And we will see where the rest of the caucus is this morning.

MARTIN: And what else works for you in all of this?

OMAR: I think the fact that we're all finally having the conversation on what it will take for us to have, you know, 50 senators and 218 House members to buy into one piece of legislation to agree and bring it up for a vote both in the House and the Senate is really exciting. I think any of the, you know, programs that we are proposing are going to have a significant impact on the lives of the American people. And if we are ultimately successful, it's going to be, you know, Democrats fulfilling the deal that they made with the American voters.

MARTIN: So you feel - I hear some optimism in your voice. But, you know, I don't have to tell you, this has been an arduous process. And the Progressive Caucus has been frustrated about the cuts to the overall bill. You said in particular that you were deeply concerned by how deeply the overall spending plan has been trimmed. Can you explain that? What still - what is gone that you want back?

OMAR: The thing is that, you know, when you're negotiating and you have people on two sides, both in the Senate and in the House, making concessions overly on one side makes it hard for the other side to be able to come along. And I think our concern all along has been that, you know, since we're not having people in the same room, both from the House and in the Senate, negotiating this out, that if you were to make a deal to get, you know, these two senators on board, you might ultimately lose members on the House side, which we can't afford to do. And you know, when you're talking about things like child care, that is going to have a significant impact on the people that we represent, or things like paid leave or the expansion of Medicare, these are things that so many people in our communities are calling and asking us about. And we have to all be at the table having a conversation on what we do about these programs.

MARTIN: It sounds like you're on board with at least the process of getting to yes on those issues. It's not - the negotiations on child care, paid leave, Medicare, these are things that are moving in the right direction in your point of view?

OMAR: Yes. Everything is moving in the right direction than it - than, you know, comparatively. You know, we obviously now have people that are, you know, having last-minute conversations about what they can live with. People are having last-minute conversations about what their communities need. People are having last-minute conversations about what this actually means overall to the American people. And like I said earlier, you know, we're talking about investments in child care, in elder care, in health care, in housing and education, in climate action. These are, you know, areas where we all want it to have a movement in regards to investment. We are behind the majority of the countries - industrialized countries around the world. And it is time for us to be serious about investing in the American people.

MARTIN: Where is the compromise then going to come from?

OMAR: The compromise is going to come from all sides. We all are going to have to make compromises. We're all going to have to negotiate. This bill is too big to fail. This promise that we made to the American people last year is too big not to keep. And I think this is, you know, a once in a generational opportunity for us to create these investments that our constituents will feel for a long time.

MARTIN: Let me ask you, though, the head of the Progressive Caucus, Representative Jayapal, has suggested that President Biden's infrastructure bill is still at risk. These two were supposed to move concurrently - infrastructure and the social spending bill. Would you still sacrifice the infrastructure bill if you don't get what you want on the social spending bill?

OMAR: First of all, our caucus supports the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. We, you know, see the harms of the crumbling roads and structural deficit - you know, bridges and lead-poisoned (ph) water that, you know, our communities are experiencing. But I think equally necessary is the fact that we also need investment in child care and health care and housing and education. We've been very honest from the beginning that we want to make sure the full agenda is implemented. And we want to give the president the opportunity to fight for that.

MARTIN: Is it time to vote on these bills?

OMAR: Of course - of course it is time for us to vote. And I think we will, you know, ultimately get there in the next 48 hours or next week, hopefully.

MARTIN: Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar of the House Progressive Caucus. We appreciate you being here this morning. Thank you.

OMAR: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRIOSENCE'S "WALTZ FOR ANDREA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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