Senator Bernie Sanders said Sunday that Democrats will use budget reconciliation, a process requiring only a simple majority in the Senate, to pass President Biden‘s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package if Republicans refuse to get on board.
“We are going to use reconciliation, that is 50 votes in the Senate plus the vice president, to pass legislation desperately needed by working families in this country right now,” Sanders told CNN’s Dana Bash on State of the Union.
The Vermont independent, who is the incoming Budget Committee chairman, noted that Republicans used budget reconciliation to bypass the typical 60-vote threshold when approving the Trump administration’s tax reform bill as well as during a failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“You did it, we’re gonna do it, but we’re gonna do it to protect ordinary people, not just the rich and the powerful,” he said.
Asked about his criticism of Republicans for using the same tactic to lower the vote threshold on major pieces of legislation, Sanders acknowledged his previous opposition but emphasized the urgency of providing pandemic relief to Americans, saying they cannot wait “weeks and weeks and months and months to go forward.”
“Yes, I did criticize them for that. And if they want to criticize me for helping to feed children who are hungry or senior citizens in this country who are isolated and alone and don’t have enough food, they can criticize me,” Sanders said.
Sanders also addressed the internet sensation that is his inauguration outfit, saying that he has turned the viral meme into a charitable opportunity and expects to raise more than $1 million for Meals on Wheels Vermont, a charity that serves the state’s elderly and homebound.