Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSunday shows preview: Next steps after Trump upheaval Bernie fights for relevance Sanders shares star power with NY House hopeful MORE (I-Vt.) on Tuesday slammed Republicans for trying to repeal large swaths of ObamaCare, saying the reconciliation legislation is a "waste of time" and the "wrong direction."
"What this legislation does is move us in exactly the wrong direction," he said. "The bill we are debating today is a complete waste of time. … We have a health care crisis and this bill makes the crisis much worse."
Sanders, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, added that he's strongly opposed to the repeal package, which he said underscored "how far removed the Republicans here in Congress are from the realities of American life and the needs of the American people."
The Senate is expected to take up the repeal legislation this week. Republicans will only need 51 votes to get it through the upper chamber under the budget reconciliation process.
The Vermont senator, however, warned that the legislation would result in 17 million people losing their health insurance.
"When you throw 17 million people off health insurance, people will die because they don't go to a doctor when they should, they don't get into the hospital when they should," he added.
It's unlikely the reconciliation bill will actually become law, with President Obama all-but-guaranteed to veto the measure.
Instead, Sanders said lawmakers should be looking at ways to expand the Affordable Care Act, something that is unlikely to happen in a GOP-controlled Congress.
The Senate's debate of the legislation, which is expected to include language to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood, comes after a shooting at a clinic in Colorado that killed three people last week.
Sanders said Republicans should end their "witch hunt" against the organization, which has drawn pushback from lawmakers after a series of videos accused Planned Parenthood of profiting from selling fetal tissue and organs.
"It is also my sincere hope that people throughout this country, including my colleagues here in the Senate and across the Capitol in the House, understand that bitter vitriolic rhetoric can have serious, unintended consequences," he said.
House Republicans have given no sign of shutting down a committee tasked with investigating Planned Parenthood in the wake of the shooting.