U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to reporters in the Senate subway during a roll-call vote April 13, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Stefani Reynolds | Getty Images
Senator Bernie Sanders is back on the road.
The Vermont independent will travel to Indiana and Iowa later this month to present the $ 3.5 trillion spending plan Democrats hope to pass Congress this year. As chairman of the budget committee, Sanders plays a central role in shaping the proposal, which Democrats aim to pass without Republican votes through budget reconciliation.
The self-proclaimed Democratic socialist will campaign for the measure in the congressional districts of Hoosier and Hawkeye states, where former President Donald Trump garnered more votes in the 2020 election than in 2016. Sanders said in a statement that he hoped to underscore public support for the policies included in the plan – even in areas represented by Republicans.
“Over the next few months, Congress will vote on the most important legislation for workers, the elderly, children, the sick and the poor since Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal of the 1930s,” said the senator.
âWhile there is no Republican support in Washington, Democrats, Independents and working class Republicans across the country support our plan to finally invest in the long neglected needs of working families. really looking forward to hearing some of them, “he continued.
Sanders will hold town halls in West Lafayette, Indiana on August 27 and in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on August 29.
Sanders’ trip to the Midwest comes as Democrats struggle to unite behind a strategy to pass two plans that they hope will freshen up America’s infrastructure, strengthen the social safety net and curb climate change. A bipartisan bill passed by the Senate would invest $ 550 billion in new spending on transportation, broadband and utilities, while the plan drafted by the Democrats would invest up to $ 3.5 trillion in child care. children, paid time off, education, climate policy and an expansion of Medicare.
The senator’s events in Indiana and Iowa precede the 2022 midterm election. Democrats hope to adopt their economic plans before next year and tout them on the election trail as they try to hold majorities narrow in both chambers of Congress.
To win the support of progressives who view bipartisan infrastructure legislation as inadequate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would not pass either of the two bills until the Senate passed the bills. of them. A group of centrists pushed her to hold a stand-alone bipartisan vote when the House briefly returns from its August recess next week.
Pelosi, a California Democrat, plans to follow the Senate in approving a budget resolution. Once both houses approve the measure, it kicks off the process by which Democrats can pass a bill without a GOP vote.
Democrats would then draft their $ 3.5 trillion legislation in the coming weeks. The party may have to make adjustments to convince centrists in the Senate, where a Democratic defection would sink the plan.
Sanders pitched the budget plan as a transformational investment in American families. It would expand access to child care and paid leave, lower the age of eligibility for Medicare and expand benefits, extend tax credits to strengthened households, create a universal pre-K and use incentives to encourage the adoption of clean energy.
Republicans in Congress have aligned themselves against the proposal. They criticized its $ 3.5 trillion price tag and the tax increases on wealthy individuals and businesses that Democrats plan to use to offset spending.
Senatorial Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Also attempted to tie the proposal to Sanders’ political identity as a Democratic Socialist.
While the GOP has opposed the plan in Washington, polls suggest broader support from the general public. Americans support the $ 3.5 trillion proposal with a 62% to 32% margin, according to a Quinnipiac poll conducted in late July and early August.
Among Republican respondents, 27% supported the plan, while 67% opposed it. Independents said they supported the measure with a 62% to 32% margin.
Sanders’ first stop in West Lafayette, Indiana is in the state’s 4th Congressional District, represented by Republican Representative James Baird. Trump won the seat by nearly 30 percentage points last year, according to the Daily Kos.
Indiana has two Republican Senators, Todd Young and Mike Braun. Both lawmakers voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill and will likely join their party in opposing the Democrats’ budget plan.
Sanders will be holding his event in Iowa at Cedar Rapids, which is in the state’s 1st Congressional District. Trump won the seat by around 3 percentage points last year as GOP Rep. Ashley Hinson defeated outgoing Democrat Abby Finkenauer.
Iowa also has two Republican senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst. Grassley voted for the infrastructure plan while Ernst opposed it. Both lawmakers are expected to vote against the Democrats’ proposal.
Every member of the House will have to run for their seat in 2022. Young and Grassley will both be re-elected, and Republicans are favored in both Senate races.
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