Bernie Sanders Getting Frustrated
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is sounding more than a little frustrated with the progress on President Biden's shrinking Build Back Better legislation.
Sanders, the chairman of the Budget Committee, is theoretically in charge of cobbling together the revised spending bill, which goes through his committee under the budget reconciliation process Dems are using to avoid a Republican filibuster. Reconciliation bills require only a simple majority vote.
Sanders had initially wanted a much larger bill -- more like $6 trillion -- than the $3.5 trillion Biden ultimately sought. He has since watched as more conservative Democrats have succeeded in getting it whittled down further, although the final size remains unknown while Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) seek concessions in the Senate.
Tuesday, Sanders was sounding tired of it all.
"We've had discussions and negotiations, month after month after month after month," the blunt, former Brooklynite told reporters on Capitol Hill. "The American people are tired of that. They want action. They want their government to start representing the needs of working people."
Representing the American people means delivering on the promises Democrats made during the 2020 campaigns, Sanders said.
"They want to lower the cost of prescription drugs. They want to expand Medicare. They want to expand to home health care. They want to do all of the things we have been talking about, and we have got to act," Sanders said. "So I hope that in the very near future, we're finally going to stop the talking and move to action and pass some legislation."
"Time is running out. We've got to act, and we've got to act now," Sanders said.
While Sanders is infamously cranky with reporters, his frustration also stands as a warning for the White House and Democratic leaders to not whittle the package down too much further.
Progressive lawmakers in the House in particular have shown they are willing to block measures if they are not satisfied, as they did recently in preventing Speaker Nancy Pelosi from passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill that moderates favor, insisting that the Build Back Better bill be done first.
President Biden was meeting with groups of moderates and progressives in the White House Tuesday afternoon to try to make progress.