- Sanders ruled out backing a $ 3 trillion Democratic infrastructure plan.
- “It’s way too low,” he told New York Times opinion columnist Maureen Dowd.
- It could possibly create a confrontation with centrists like Joe Manchin who favor a smaller plan.
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Senator Bernie Sanders stated that he would oppose an expense bill that is only democratic if the price tag did not exceed $ 3 trillion and brushed somewhat lower for rings. It could possibly set the stage for a confrontation between Sanders and moderate Democrats who want to limit the size of a follow-up package.
In an interview with New York Times opinion columnist Maureen Dowd, published Saturday, the Vermont senator ruled out supporting a party line infrastructure plan amounting to either $ 2 trillion or $ 3 trillion.
—Maureen Dowd (@maureendowd) July 10, 2021
They seemed to include broadband, climate, childcare, universal pre-K, paid family and medical leave, Medicare expansion and housing among others.
“Does anyone deny that our childcare system, for example, is a disaster?” Sanders told Dowd. “Does anyone deny that pre-K is also totally inadequate? Does anyone deny that there is something absurd that our young people can not afford to go to college or leave school deep in debt? Does anyone deny that our physical infrastructure is collapsing? “
Sander’s remarks could potentially create a showdown with Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia as Democrats move forward with a reconciliation spending package. Reconciliation is a legislative tactic Democrats are ready to use and circumvent Republicans because only a simple majority is needed for certain bills.
The party has a narrow majority in Parliament and a 50-50 Senate that relies on a draw from Vice President Kamala Harris. Every Senate Democrat must be on board as a result otherwise the package fails.
Manchin has made it clear that he favors a party line package that is fully paid with tax increases and does not grow government debt. He previously suggested a price tag of $ 2 trillion.
“I have agreed that it can be done. I just have not agreed the amount,” he told MSNBC late last month. “I have not seen everything everyone wants to put in the bill.”
As chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders has a huge influence on reconciliation, as the panel helps set the overall level of spending. Senate Democrats weigh up to $ 6 trillion in spending aimed at revising the economy with new initiatives in child care, higher education, monthly cash payments to families and clean energy programs.
Manchin, along with a few other Senate Democrats like Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, has already failed to support $ 6 trillion in spending, making cuts likely.
President Joe Biden has already signed a $ 1 trillion infrastructure deal with a key group of lawmakers focused on roads, bridges and highways. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has dug into not adhering to the plan until the Senate also approves a separate reconciliation package that includes measures that are unlikely to draw Republican support.
It is unclear whether that will eventually pass, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has not thrown his support behind it yet. So far, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has told Democrats to gear up for potentially long days ahead to begin the reconciliation process before the August deadline next month.
“Be aware that time is of the essence and we have a lot of work to do,” Schumer wrote Friday in a letter to Senate Democrats. “Senators should be prepared for the possibility of working long nights, weekends and staying in Washington into the previously scheduled state work period in August.”