Bernie Sanders reminded Democrats that they don’t need any Republican support to pass the biggest most progressive and comprehensive stimulus package under the Biden administration by using his wide ranging powers as chair of the Senate Budget Committee.
According to Roll Call: House and Senate Democrats are prepping an audacious and fast-moving game plan to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue package without GOP support, potentially employing tools that would shatter conventional understandings of the budget reconciliation process.
Sander’s wrote in an opinion column for CNN published Tuesday, that Democrats should utilize the budget reconciliation process to pass a wave of “big” policies under the new Biden administration and implored Democrats to flex their power and implement a “bold and aggressive economic agenda” now that the party has full control over Congress and the White House.
The New York Times reported: “Republicans have long feared the prospect of Mr. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist from Vermont, taking the helm of the powerful committee given his embrace of bigger government and more federal spending with borrowed money. With Democrats reclaiming the Senate, that fear is about to become a reality. Mr. Sanders, the most progressive member of the chamber, will have a central role in shaping and steering the Democrats’ tax and spending plans through a Congress that they control with the slimmest of margins”
“Despite Democrats’ narrow control of the Senate, Mr. Sanders is expected to exert heavy influence over taxes, health care, climate change and several other domestic issues. That is because his role as budget chairman will give him control over a little-known but incredibly powerful congressional tool that allows certain types of legislation to win Senate approval with just a simple majority.”
That tool — a budget mechanism called reconciliation — allows Congress to move some legislation without gaining 60 votes. It has become the vehicle for several major legislative efforts this century, including tax cuts under President Trump and President George W. Bush, and the final version of President Barack Obama’s signature health care bill.
Reconciliation allows the Senate to pass bills fairly quickly and with a simple majority, as they are not subject to filibuster. The maneuver, first used by Congress in 1980, is mainly aimed at budget and spending legislation that need quick consideration.
Sanders wrote: “When the Republicans controlled the Senate during the George W. Bush and Trump presidencies, they used reconciliation to pass trillions of dollars in tax breaks for the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations. They also used reconciliation to try and repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017. Today, Democrats must use this same process to lift Americans out of poverty, increase wages and create good-paying jobs.”
“Failure to adequately respond to the economic desperation in America today will undermine the Biden administration and likely lead Democrats to lose their thin majorities,” Sanders wrote, cautioning that the party “must not repeat those mistakes” of the Obama and Clinton years, when Democrats lost majorities during the presidents’ first terms in office.
Among the key measures Sanders has proposed to tackle the economic crisis include sending $2,000 direct payments to Americans, raising the minimum wage to $15, canceling student debt, as well as providing universal pre-K and guaranteed paid family and medical leave for 12 weeks.
“Asked about conservatives’ fears, Mr. Sanders was pointed,” the New York Times concluded, “He said polls showed the tax and spending increases he planned to bring forward were popular among wide swaths of voters, including Republicans, even though the party’s lawmakers tended to dislike them.”
“They should be worried,” he said, referring to his Republican colleagues. But their constituents, he said, should not be.