Sanders won’t vote for bipartisan infrastructure deal

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says he won’t support a bipartisan infrastructure spending proposal unveiled last week because he believes it doesn’t do enough to address the needs of the country and shields the wealthy from tax increases.

Sanders’s opposition means the proposal would need to garner at least 11 Republican votes in the 50-50 Senate if Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) puts it on the floor and the rest of the Democratic caucus votes for it.

“I wouldn’t vote for it,” he told reporters Monday evening. “The bottom line is there are needs facing this country. Now is the time to address those needs and it has to be paid for in a progressive way given the fact that we have massive income, wealth inequality in America.”  

Other Democrats share Sanders’s disappointment with the size of the bipartisan proposal, which would spend $579 billion in new money over current budget baselines.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said the proposal was “very, very paltry. And disappointing.”

“When you look at it over five years, it’s pitiful and paltry,” he added.

Blumenthal, however, said he could possibly hold his nose and vote for it if “there were some hard and fast commitment” from all 50 members of the Democratic caucus to vote for a follow-up budget reconciliation bill that would enact much of Biden’s broader infrastructure agenda with only Democratic votes. 

“I’m running out of patience. We need to move forward instead of just treading water. And history and time are not on our side,” he said.

“I could hold my nose and vote for this package if there’s some definite, iron-clad assurance that we would then do a second package through budget reconciliation to compensate for the abject deficiency of this one,” he added.

Democratic threats to oppose the package put more pressure on bipartisan negotiators to pick up Republican support.

“The question is how many can the Democrats deliver if it’s less than what they want?” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.). 

Several Republicans have already voiced serious concerns with the package.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said he considers indexing the gas tax to inflation a gas tax increase, which he opposes.

“I’m not going to support any tax increases. I’m not going to support increasing the debt,” he said.

Asked if indexing the gas tax to inflation is a tax increase, Scott said: “Yes.” 

Tags Bernie Sanders Charles Schumer Infrastructure John Thune

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