It’s time for the Senate to vote: Americans have a right to know where their senators stand

A chart for the Build Back Better Act during Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) weekly on-camera press conference on Thursday, November 18, 2021.
Greg Nash

During the last year there have been endless back-room negotiations within the Senate Democratic Caucus on Build Back Better, President Biden’s enormously popular legislation which addresses the long-neglected needs of America’s working families. But, amazingly, there have been no votes. The result: the Republican Party is able to escape responsibility for their reactionary positions and is now laughing all the way to likely political success in the 2022 elections. 

Here’s a radical idea for the Senate, “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” Let’s vote. Let’s have every Republican and Democrat take a position on some of the most important issues facing the working families of this country. Let’s vote on whether, at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, the wealthiest people in our society should start paying their fair share of taxes so that we can improve life for the average American.  

Eighty-three percent of the American people support empowering the federal government to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry to lower prescription drug prices. 

What do the Republicans think? Are they prepared to stand up to the greed of the pharmaceutical industry which charges us the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs? Will Republicans vote to have Medicare negotiate prescription drug prices in the same way that the VA does, which would lower the cost of prescription drugs by 50 percent. 

Let’s vote and find out.

Eighty-four percent of the American people support expanding Medicare to include dental, vision and hearing care

At a time when millions of seniors cannot afford these basic health care needs, will Republicans vote to expand Medicare? Let’s vote and find out.  

Seventy-six percent of the American people support expanding home health care services for seniors and people with disabilities and increasing support for low-wage home health care workers.

Millions of American families are struggling today to take care of their aging parents or family members with disabilities. They would prefer not to have to send their loved ones to an understaffed and expensive nursing home, but they need help. Where do Republicans stand on this issue? Let’s vote and find out. 

Seventy-three percent of the American people support guaranteeing paid family and medical leave to workers

The United States of America is the only major country in the world that does not guarantee paid family and medical leave. Do Republicans believe that women should be forced back to work a week or two after giving birth? Are they prepared to endanger the health of all Americans by forcing people who serve our food and cut our hair to go to work when they are sick during a pandemic? Let’s vote and find out. 

Fifty-nine percent of Americans support increased funding for child care and universal pre-K. 

At a time when childcare is extremely unaffordable and when there is a scarcity of high-quality sites, are Republicans prepared to vote against providing universal Pre-K to every three and four year old in America? Will they vote against legislation to make sure that no working family in America spends over 7 percent of their limited incomes on childcare? Let’s vote and find out. 

Fifty-three percent of Americans support an extension of the Child Tax Credit that provided up to $300 a month in direct payments to working families.

As a result of the American Rescue Plan, more than 36 million families received a monthly direct payment of up to $300 per child.

These monthly payments, which expired in December, reduced the childhood poverty rate in America by some 40 percent.

Are Republicans prepared to push nearly 10 million of our kids back into poverty? 

Let’s vote and find out.

Sixty-four percent of the American people support creating good-paying American jobs by making massive investments in clean energy and preparing for extreme weather events. 

The scientific community has told us that if we do not act aggressively to cut carbon emissions, our country and the planet will face enormous and irreversible damage. Will the Republican Party continue to deny that climate change is an existential threat to our planet and vote against creating millions of good-paying clean energy jobs? Let’s vote and find out.

Sixty-five percent of Americans support funding for affordable housing. 

In America today, nearly 18 million families are paying more than half of their limited incomes on housing and nearly 600,000 Americans are homeless. 

Are Republicans prepared to vote against creating hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs building the affordable housing that our country desperately needs? Let’s vote and find out.

How are we going to pay for these popular initiatives and not increase the deficit? The answer is not complicated.   

Seventy-one percent of the American people support raising income taxes on the top 2 percent while 65 percent of our people want to increase taxes on large corporations.

During the pandemic, 700 billionaires became over $2 trillion richer while corporations are making record-breaking profits.

With a rapidly growing gap between the very rich and everyone else, are Republicans prepared to continue allowing billionaires and large corporations to enjoy massive tax loopholes and avoid paying their fair share of taxes? Let’s vote and find out.

This is an enormously difficult moment for the struggling working class of our country, and the Senate needs to act. In our democracy, the American people have a right to know where their senators stand on the most important issues impacting their lives. No more endless “negotiations.” No more hiding behind closed doors.  Let’s vote. 

Bernie Sanders is the Senate Budget chairman.

Tags Bernie Sanders Build Back Better Child tax credit Joe Biden medicare prescription drug negotiations

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