Senate

Bernie Sanders confirms interest in becoming Biden’s Labor secretary

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on Wednesday that, if asked, he would accept the position of Labor secretary in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.

“I want to do everything I can to protect the working families of this country who are under tremendous duress right now and whether that is in the Senate, whether that’s in the Biden administration, who knows? Let’s see how that unfolds,” Sanders said during an interview with CNN when asked if he was eyeing a position in Biden’s Cabinet.

“If I had a portfolio that allowed me to stand up and fight for working families, would I do it? Yes, I would,” Sanders said when pressed if he would accept a job as Labor secretary. 

Progressives are pushing for Biden to pick Sanders, who caucuses with Senate Democrats, for a Cabinet position as they try to get the incoming administration to embrace policies pushed by the party’s left flank.

Sanders has amassed a large following during his 2016 and 2020 presidential bids, which while unsuccessful have helped him move the Democratic Party further to the left.

CNN reported on Tuesday that Sanders was calling labor union leaders asking for their backing. 

But whether Biden ultimately picks Sanders is unclear, with Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez also viewed as potential contenders. CNN reported that AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is supportive of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for the position.

Picking Sanders could also cause headaches in the Senate.

Which party will control the chamber next year will be decided by two runoff elections in Georgia. If Democrats, who are currently expected to have 48 seats, are able to win both races they will have the majority because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be able to break 50-50 ties.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, would be able to appoint Sanders’s successor ahead of a special election. Though that could give Scott a chance to pick a Republican he has said that he would anticipate picking a “more left-leaning type of independent that would obviously caucus with the Democrats.” 

A Sanders nomination is also likely to face heavy opposition from Republicans, setting up the potential that he could be blocked if the GOP keeps control of the chamber.

Tags Andy Levin Bernie Sanders Joe Biden Tom Perez

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