With bipartisan infrastructure talks flailing once again, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said the Senate Budget Committee he chairs is working on a massive $6 trillion spending package to pass through the budget reconciliation process without Republican support.
"Yeah, absolutely," Sanders told reporters, The Hill reported, of the plans to work without GOP votes later this year, and noting the plan uses the basis of President Joe Biden's American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan for the progressive spending package.
"The president has given us a framework. I think it's a comprehensive and serious framework. It is the function of the Congress now to take that framework and go with it."
Budget reconciliation tactics permit a Senate bill to pass with merely 50 votes and the tiebeaker of Vice President Kamala Harris in a Senate split 50-50. It circumvents the Senate filibuster rule that requires at least 10 Republicans to join the 48 Democrats and two independents to pass legislation.
"I think it is absolutely imperative that we deal with the existential threat of climate change, that we lower the cost of prescription drugs, that we make sure elderly people can chew their food because we expand Medicare to dental care, hearing aids, and eyeglasses," Sanders added to reporters.
"I think it's unacceptable that we have a half a million people sleeping out in the streets in America because we have a major housing crisis. What the president has said is we ought to take a comprehensive look at the crises facing this country and that's what we're going to do."
And do it regardless of what Republicans think. The spending bill still requires all 48 Democrats and the other independent to vote to approve it – something Democrats could not get on other bills or in efforts to stamp out the Senate filibuster.
"We have to be conscious of the debt," moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told The Hill.
"I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and listen to everybody first before I make a comment."
Change is inevitable, giving potential holdouts like Manchin some leverage to dictate what $6 trillion will pay for.
"Everything is in movement," Sanders said, The Hill reported. "This is a proposal, it's a draft, it's going to change every day.
"Immigration reform and moving to comprehensive immigration reform [is] something that's been talked about for a very long time. We're working with the White House."
Another red-state Democrat, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., is currently a "no" on the plan, according to The Hill, albeit holding some leverage to help dictate the prerogatives for the $6 trillion.
"The way you just described it? Nothing personal, but no," Tester told a reporter, according to the report.
"The key is, this is like the defense budget, it's not how much, it's how it's utilized that's important."
Among the big-ticket items comprising true infrastructure, The New York Times reported:
- $110 billion for roads and bridges.
- $65 billion for broadband.
- $25 billion for airports.
- $55 billion for water infrastructure.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.