Sanders worries pay-go rules could complicate climate change action

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again Don't expect Trump-sized ratings for Democratic debates MORE (I-Vt.) said he is “concerned” about a budgetary rule known as pay-as-you-go that was included in House Democrats’ newly released rules package, saying it could complicate action on climate change.

“At a time when climate change threatens our planet, when our infrastructure is crumbling, when 30 million people have no health insurance, I'm concerned that the concept of PAYGO will make it harder for Congress to address the many crises facing our working families,” he tweeted Wednesday. 

The comment comes as House Democrats unveiled Wednesday a package of new rules for the upcoming Congress that includes a pay-go budgetary rule. The rule requires that legislation be deficit neutral, meaning any costs would need to be offset with new revenue or cuts elsewhere. But the rule can also be waived, and it does not apply to emergency legislation.


Progressives Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaOvernight Defense: Trump says he doesn't need exit strategy with Iran | McConnell open to vote on Iran war authorization | Senate panel advances bill to restrict emergency arms sales Bipartisan House duo unveils amendment to block Iran strike without Congress's approval Sanders unveils student debt plan amid rivalry with Warren MORE (D-Calif.) and Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDemocrat backs up Ocasio-Cortez: Migrant shelters 'are like concentration camps' Ocasio-Cortez marks one-year anniversary of her primary win Democratic lawmaker says treatment of migrants at border 'not American' MORE (D-N.Y.) both announced they would vote against the bylaws, citing the budgetary rule.

"It is terrible economics. The austerians were wrong about the Great Recession and Great Depression. At some point, politicians need to learn from mistakes and read economic history," Khanna tweeted on Wednesday.

“PAYGO isn’t only bad economics, as @RoKhanna explains; it’s also a dark political maneuver designed to hamstring progress on healthcare+other leg. We shouldn’t hinder ourselves from the start,” Ocasio-Cortez echoed.

However, Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanWarren introduces universal child care legislation On The Money: DOJ offers legal opinion backing refusal to release Trump tax returns | Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage | Trump bashes Powell ahead of crucial Fed meeting | Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage push MORE (D-Wis.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalOcasio-Cortez: It was easier to get elected to Congress than pay off student loan debt House Democratic leaders work to secure votes for border bill Republican lawmaker: Plan to #CancelStudentDebt 'is immoral' MORE (D-Wash.), the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus for the next Congress, said they will vote for the rules package.

They said they've gotten assurances from House Democratic leaders and incoming Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) that the pay-go rule can be waived.

This is not the first time Sanders has expressed concerns about pay-go, ripping it in 2017 as “a law that never should have been passed.”

“It makes it much easier for Congress to force cuts to vital programs like Medicare by passing unrelated bills that then need to be offset. But that said, just like the similarly misguided debt limit that Republicans regularly use for hostage taking, it is currently the law of the land,” he said when commenting on the GOP tax plan.

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSenate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House Pelosi: Congress will receive election security briefing in July Trump says he spoke to Pelosi, McConnell on border package MORE (Calif.), defended the House rules and urged Democrats to support them.

“A vote AGAINST the Democratic Rules package is a vote to let Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Democratic debates: Miami nice or spice? On The Money: Sanders unveils plan to wipe .6T in student debt | How Sanders plan plays in rivalry with Warren | Treasury watchdog to probe delay of Harriet Tubman bills | Trump says Fed 'blew it' on rate decision The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump targets Iran with new sanctions MORE make across the board cuts, unilaterally reversing Democratic initiatives and funding increases,” he tweeted, referencing the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget and acting White House chief of staff.

Eighteen Democrats would need to vote against the rules package Thursday to kill the plan if all Republicans vote “no.”