Sen. Sanders: 'The $3.5T Is Much Too Low'; Parliamentarian Rejects Immigration Provision

By Susan Jones | September 20, 2021 | 7:05am EDT
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) refuses to budge on the $3.5 trillion cost of his agenda for "working families." (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) refuses to budge on the $3.5 trillion cost of his agenda for "working families." (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty

( - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) indicated on Sunday that he is not willing to spend less than $3.5 trillion on the Democrats' entitlement plan for "working families," even though Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has said the price tag is too high.

In the 50-50 Senate, the reconciliation bill will fail without Manchin's "aye" vote.

And in a new development, the Associated Press reported on Sunday that the Senate parliamentarian has ruled that Democrats cannot include a pathway to citizenship in their reconciliation bill, which pertains to budgetary items.

“We are deeply disappointed in this decision," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted in response, "but the fight to provide lawful status for immigrants in budget reconciliation continues. Senate Democrats have prepared alternate proposals and will be holding additional meetings with the Senate parliamentarian in the coming days.”

'A compromise has already been made'

"We got 50 -- we got 50 votes," Sanders told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday:

"We're going to have to work it out, as we did with the American Rescue Plan. But I have already made and my colleagues have made a major compromise, going from $6 trillion down to $3.5 trillion."

Brennan noted that Democrats risk "losing everything" if they don't lower the cost. Manchin has suggested that $1.5 trillion would be more to his liking.

"Right now -- look, right now, what we are doing is, we are engaging with the House and the Senate," Sanders said.

It is a complicated proposal.

All I am telling you is the $3.5 trillion is much too low. A compromise has already been made. An agreement has been made.

And the American people, by the way, poll after poll after poll, are telling us, now is the time to stand up to powerful special interests. Now is the time to start representing working families.

On all of these issues, they are enormously powerful. And maybe, just maybe, we can work for workers for a change, and not just...wealthy campaign contributors.

Democrats plan to spend the $3.5 trillion in new entitlement programs and their green new deal over ten years. "Per year, it's less than we spend on the military," Sanders said:

"Now, maybe you can tell me, or somebody else can tell me, how much we should spend to save the planet, because what the scientists are telling us is that, if we don't get a handle on climate change within the next few years, there will be irreparable damage.

"And you know what? I got four kids and seven grandchildren. And I think we have a moral responsibility to leave them a planet that is healthy and is habitable."

Sanders said he expects "the pressure of the American people" will force Democrats to "come together again and do what has to be done."

"But, at the end of the day, I think what the overwhelming majority of the American people want us to do is finally stand up for them, not just the drug companies and the health care industry and the fossil fuel industry." This is what we are trying to do. It's an enormous fight. We're going to win it."

Sen. Manchin has called for a "strategic pause" in bringing the reconciliation bill to a vote.

"No one is talking about inflation or debt, and we should have that as part of the discussion, and then the geopolitical, what's going on around the world and what type of challenges we may face," Manchin said last week.

"What we do know is that, basically, the need for this, the emergency to do something in the next week is not there."

Manchin noted that Congress has already passed $5.4 trillion in new spending over the last year and a half, "and a lot of that money is still going out the door. There's no one going to be left behind for the rest of this year and most of next year.

"So the urgency, I can't understand why we can't take time, deliberate on this, and work," he said.

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