Just as a major infrastructure bill makes its way through the requisite procedural hurdles and heads toward full debate and potential passage, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has thrown a potential wrench into President Joe Biden’s plans by declaring that “there will not be a bipartisan [infrastructure] bill unless there is a [separate] reconciliation bill,” as Breitbart reports.
Sanders, chairman of the Senate Budget Commitee, reportedly said during an interview on the Krystal Kyle & Friends podcast, “I am willing to go along, I think, I want to see the final details of the bipartisan bill if there is 100% agreement on the part of the Democrats who are negotiating this that they are going to go along with the reconciliation package.”
The Vermont senator’s comments were in reference to a separate $3.5 trillion spending package that includes a veritable wish-list of progressive policy priorities, including Biden’s desire for an extension of the child tax credit, implementation of health care programs, climate change action, and possibly even amnesty provisions for illegal immigrants.
Democrats, who only hold the slimmest advantage in the upper chamber, given the availability of a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, have said they are ready and willing to use the budget reconciliation process to get the second infrastructure spending bill through with a simple majority and avoid a GOP filibuster, which, according to current Republican sentiment on the bill, would be inevitable.
Reactions from the right from the Democrats’ plans to use budget rules to achieve policy priorities for which they are otherwise unable to marshal sufficient support have been swift and damning, with no less than former President Donald Trump warning of what he called “the effort by Democrats to completely change America through the reconciliation process.”
“The infrastructure package has little to do with infrastructure as we know it, bridges, roads, tunnels, etc., but it is a dramatic expansion of government that will cost much more than the $3.5 trillion being discussed,” Trump argued.
Also cautioning Americans about the Democrats’ intention to use reconciliation to enact sweeping mail-in voting rules he claims will prevent Republicans from ever “being elected to high office again,” Trump said the GOP must “fight this and deny Democrats a quorum if that is what it takes.”
Joining Trump’s concerns over the budget reconciliation gambit from the left was Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who said, “Conservatives need to focus on a critical fight that hasn’t gotten enough attention: the Democrats’ effort to stuff amnesty into a reconciliation bill, adding:
Democrats don’t have 60 Senate votes for amnesty, so they have a new trick: pretend the biggest immigration bill in decades is part of their “budget” bill to pass it on a party-line vote through reconciliation.
Though it remains to be seen whether the Senate parliamentarian will even permit the use of the reconciliation process to achieve passage some of the legislative initiatives included in the $3.5 trillion bill, given their arguably tenuous direct budgetary impact, Sanders remains resolute in his stance, saying, “All I can tell you is, if I have anything to say about it, there will not be a bipartisan bill unless there is a reconciliation bill.”