Sanders traveling to Iowa, Indiana to pitch Biden’s spending package

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) leaves the Senate chambers after final passage of $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill on Tuesday, August 10, 2021.
UPI Photo

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is hitting the road to pitch Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending plan, which they are hoping to pass through Congress later this year. 

Sanders, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee and led the talks on the blueprint for the spending package, will travel later this month to Indiana and Iowa, where he’ll hold a town hall on Aug. 27 and Aug. 29, respectively. 

Senate Democrats approved a budget earlier this month that will allow them to write and pass a $3.5 trillion spending package as soon as next month without GOP support. The spending package is expected to include top priorities like child care, expanding Medicare, combating climate change and immigration reform. 

“While it will have no Republican support in Washington, Democrats, independents and working-class Republicans all over the country support our plan to finally invest in the long-neglected needs of working families. I very much look forward to hearing from some of them,” Sanders said Thursday.

Sanders will travel to two congressional districts where former President Trump increased his number of voters between 2016 and 2020, according to details from Sanders’s political apparatus.  

Both Iowa and Indiana are solidly red states, and both are represented by two GOP senators. The last Democratic senator to hold a seat in either state, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), was defeated in 2018. 

Congressional Republicans are lining up in unified opposition against the $3.5 trillion spending package, and Democrats are facing pushback from moderates in both chambers who are sending warning signals that they want to lower the price tag. Democrats need total unity in the Senate, and near total unity in the House, to pass the plan under budget rules that let them avoid the normal 60-vote Senate hurdle. 

Republicans are also trying to make Sanders the face of the Democratic Party, in a repeat of their 2020 strategy. 

“The Socialist takeover of the Democrat party is complete – and so-called ‘moderate’ Senate Democrats have barely put up a fight. They have shown ‘little discomfort’ with Bernie Sanders leading their agenda down a path towards socialism. One thing is clear about today’s Democrat Party: Bernie Sanders is the captain now,” the National Republican Senatorial Committee said in a statement earlier this month. 

But Biden and congressional Democrats are betting that they’ll be able to sell their plan to swing voters and some Republicans outside of Washington by emphasizing its health care, child care and housing benefits. The strategy is similar to the COVID-19 relief bill that Democrats passed on their own earlier this year but touted as bipartisan because it picked up support in polling from GOP voters. 

And they’re hoping to be able to tout the plan, as well as a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, heading into the 2022 midterms, where their control of the House and Senate are at stake. Biden has put both at the center of his legislative agenda. 

A Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this month found that Americans supported a $3.5 trillion spending plan for social programs, including child care, education and expanding Medicare for seniors, 62 percent to 32 percent.  

Tags $3.5 trillion spending package american jobs plan Bernie Sanders childcare Donald Trump Health care costs Infrastructure Joe Donnelly Medicare seniors

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