Sanders signals he expects to use reconciliation for infrastructure

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Greg Nash

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Tuesday that he wants to use a fast-track process for infrastructure, appearing skeptical that the package could get enough GOP support to defeat a filibuster. 

“What I have seen this year and in past years is that if we want to do something significant, it is very hard to get Republican support,” Sanders said. 

“So the devil is of course in the details. If Republicans are prepared to support a significant and important piece of legislation that deals with climate change, deals with infrastructure, that’s great. My own feeling is at this point I doubt that that will be the case,” Sanders added. 

Sanders said that it was too early to discuss one of the thorniest issues of the looming infrastructure debate, how to pay for it. But asked if he was intending to do reconciliation on an infrastructure package, he added: “Yes.” 

Sanders as Budget Committee chairman is responsible for drafting the resolution that would include instructions for writing an infrastructure package under reconciliation — the budget process that would let Democrats bypass the 60-vote legislative filibuster. 

Democrats are leaving the door open to making the infrastructure package bipartisan, and there’s some pushback from centrists such as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) for using reconciliation without a concerted effort to craft a bill that could get 60 votes. 

But Democrats are also under big pressure from their base to deliver, and are pledging that they will enact a “bold” agenda without or without Republicans. 

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) hinted at the likely outcome in January when he told MSNBC that they would “probably” use it for Biden’s Build Back Better Plan, the name for his infrastructure and jobs package. 

And Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) — who is on the committee responsible for crafting the bill and had talked about wanting bipartisan support — was overheard Monday saying that Democrats are “most likely going to have to use reconciliation.”

Tags Ben Cardin Bernie Sanders budget reconciliation Chuck Schumer coronavirus relief Infrastructure Joe Manchin

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