In his first Senate floor speech after becoming chair of the powerful budget committee, Sanders details what is in the covid relief plan that his budget committee is drafting and says that it contains the fulfillment of the promises that he and many other Democratic leaders made to voters during the last election about what they would do if they got the majority. He says that they are obligated to carry them through. As usual, he focuses on the things that are important and does not take his eye off the ball and does not get distracted.
In an email sent out to his supporters and in his speech, he explains what his legislation will do:
And what this legislation would do is provide $1,400 in direct payments for every working person and their children. The $600 direct payment passed in December was not enough. We need to boost it to $2,000 for every working class adult and their kids. This legislation will also extend unemployment benefits with a $300 supplement for those out of work through September of this year. It will provide much needed aid for state and local governments struggling with massive budget shortfalls. It will greatly expand the Child Tax credit to substantially reduce child poverty. It will provide health care support for those struggling to afford care or who have lost their jobs. It will increase funding for nutrition programs for those struggling with food insecurity. It includes funding for homeless assistance and to help more than 16 million K-12 students who live in households without the internet, and it will provide funding to get kids back in the classroom. It will expand COVID testing, and it will help us get the vaccine in more arms which we need to help our country return to “normal.” And it will take the long overdue step of raising the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour.
All good stuff. All critical.
In the email, he goes on to talk about his future plans.
In the second reconciliation bill we must deal with the structural changes our country desperately needs by passing a number of programs that enjoy the overwhelming support of the American people.
We must end the international embarrassment of the United States being the only major country on earth not to provide paid family and medical leave to workers.
We must create millions of good-paying jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, constructing affordable housing and modernizing our schools.
We must lead the world in combating the existential threat of climate change by making massive investments in wind, solar, geothermal, electric vehicles, weatherization and energy storage.
We must make public colleges, universities, trade schools and HBCUs tuition-free and forcefully address the outrageous levels of student debt for working families in this country.
We have got to be bold in terms of jobs, health care, nutrition, education, racial justice, immigration, criminal justice reform, housing, climate change, and many other important issues. We must continue our collective struggle to create a government that works for all of us, not just the 1%.
At the very end of his speech, he takes the opportunity to hit back at Republican whining about the lack of bipartisanship in passing this bill, showing them to be the hypocrites they are. He emphasizes that bipartisanship is the means to an end, not an end in itself.
In his first speech on the Senate floor since officially becoming chairman of the chamber’s budget committee on Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders reminded Republican senators complaining about the Democratic majority’s effort to pass coronavirus relief through the filibuster-proof reconciliation process that the GOP used the same tool to unilaterally ram through tax cuts for the wealthy just over three years ago.
“There has been some discussion here, the media seems fixated, on the issue of partisanship,” said the Vermont senator. “Oh my god, we’re being so partisan. So let me remind everybody… under the Trump administration, massive tax breaks were passed that went to the top 1% and large corporations—83% of the benefits of the Trump tax plan went to the 1% and large corporations. And you know how bipartisan that bill was, passed in reconciliation? There was not one Democrat that voted for that bill. It was [passed] just with Republican votes.”
“Then outrageously, as part of reconciliation, Republicans came forward and said, ‘Hey, we think it’s a brilliant idea to repeal the Affordable Care Act and throw up to 32 million people off the healthcare that they have,” Sanders said, recounting the GOP’s failed 2017 effort. “Not one Democrat voted for that bill. My point is that it’s one thing for my Republican friends here to be talking about the need for bipartisanship, which all of us support. But the reality is they used exactly the same process to pass—or at least try to pass—major, major pieces of legislation.”
Bernie has been fighting the good fight on behalf of ordinary people all his life. I am glad that he finally has some clout to try and bring these ideas to fruition.