Progressive groups tied to left-wing Hungarian billionaire George Soros are using the congressional recess to pressure the two Senate Democrats standing in the way of President Biden’s $3.5 trillion expansion of the federal safety net.
One such group tried to Mr. Soros, MomsRising, launched a five-figure ad campaign on Monday in West Virginia touting the spending plan.
In particular, it focuses on the issue of paid family and medical leave, 12 weeks of which would be granted annually to workers if Mr. Biden’s proposal becomes law.
“We’re counting on Congress to do what’s right for moms, families, businesses and the economy … [by] ensuring in this country that everyone has paid leave,” Ruth Martin, a senior vice president at MomsRising, says in the ad.
Although it makes no mention of West Virginia’s senior senator, Democrat Joe Manchin III, the ad is part of an extensive pressure campaign against the lawmaker.
Mr. Manchin, along with Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, has held up passage of the $3.5 trillion spending plan.
The lawmakers argue that liberals have been too ambitious in crafting the proposal, filling it with policies and programs out of the political mainstream.
“I don’t believe that we should turn our society into an entitlement society,” Mr. Manchin said.
Since the spending will get no Republican votes, Democrats plan to pass it via budget reconciliation. The special process allows some spending and tax measures to avoid the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass with a simple majority of 51 votes.
At the moment, given that the Senate is evenly split between the two parties, Democrats cannot afford to lose either Mr. Manchin or Ms. Sinema.
To get the lawmakers to fall into the line, organizations linked to Mr. Soros have stepped into the fray.
Groups like MomsRising, which has received more than $500,000 from the left-wing billionaire’s philanthropic arm in recent years, are hard at work on a two-pronged strategy.
First, the groups are running ads and mobilization campaigns to build grassroots support for the package among Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema’s conservative-leaning electorates.
Part of what that effort entails, according to activists, is not just educating voters about how the policies within the reconciliation package will benefit them, but also how individual lawmakers are standing in the way of “progress.”
“Sen. Manchin has some explaining to do to moms and families in West Virginia and across America,” said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, the executive director of MomsRising. “Moving these policies forward together isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the economically smart thing to do.”
The second part of the strategy is to leverage pressure on the lawmakers directly.
Activists affiliated with GNDN, a 15-member coalition made up of environmental groups, held up signs at the race demanding Ms. Sinema “stop running” and “start listening.”
“Sinema’s constituents had to fly to the Boston Marathon to find her,” said Ellen Sciales, a spokeswoman for the Sunrise Movement, which is part of the GNDN. “Stop obstructing and deliver.”
The public confrontations are nothing new.
Protestors from two Soros-funded groups, CASA de Maryland and the Center for Popular Democracy Action, blockaded Mr. Manchin’s houseboat in Washington earlier this month.
The protesters, many of whom claimed to be from West Virginia, berated Mr. Manchin for his opposition to the $3.5 trillion spending deal over a nearly half-day rally.
Similarly, Ms. Sinema has been targeted by other Soros-funded groups, although to a level bordering on harassment.
Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), which has received nearly $2 million for “policy advocacy” from Mr. Soros, came under fire this month for accosting Ms. Sinema at Arizona State University.
Video from the incident, which LUCHA posted online, shows members of the group harassing the lawmaker for opposing the social welfare bill. At one point, members of the group followed Ms. Sinema into a campus restroom and filmed themselves berating her.
Ms. Sinema has characterized the incident as not a “legitimate” form of protest.
Although the misconduct sparked widespread condemnation, progressives appear unfazed in continuing to target Ms. Sinema or Mr. Manchin for their opposition to the reconciliation package.
“If they did their jobs and listened to those they represent, they’d know we need full climate investment now,” Ms. Sciales said.