Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will be the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee next year, Democrats announced Friday. 

The self-proclaimed socialist replaces Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who is moving over to become ranking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

The promotion for Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats, gives him a prominent perch to push his priorities as he moves toward a long-shot run for the White House in 2016. He is a vocal advocate for increased spending on social programs and says the budget of the Pentagon should be slashed dramatically.

As ranking member on the budget panel, Sanders could be tasked with creating an alternative fiscal blueprint to the budget that will be put forward by the new Republican Congress.

That could cause friction, as the Vermont senator’s policy views are to the left of many in the Democratic Caucus.

Sanders presents his vision of a “progressive” budget on his campaign website, which includes ending tax breaks for the wealthy and large corporations, reducing defense spending and boosting entitlement programs. He has introduced legislation, for example, that would raise the payroll tax cap on people making over $250,000 a year in order to keep Social Security solvent for another 75 years. 

Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have yet to decide who will take the lead on the budget panel next year as chairman.

{mosads}Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), currently its ranking member, was slated to take the gavel in the new Congress until Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) jumped into the race.

Enzi has more seniority on the committee because of lots they drew when they both entered Congress in 1997. The draw determined that if they both became members of the same committee in the same year, Enzi would have seniority.

Both Sessions and Enzi joined the Budget Committee in 2003.


Tags Bernie Sanders Jeff Sessions Mike Enzi Patty Murray

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