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Bernie Sanders is already gearing up to see Democrats’ social-spending package ‘strengthened’, calling for taxes on the wealthy, lower prescription drug prices, and climate reform

"The Senate has an opportunity to make this a truly historic piece of legislation," Sanders said in a statement after the House passed Biden's plan. ...
Bernie Sanders White House
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) talks to reporters outside the White House.

  • On Friday, the House finally passed Biden's $2 trillion social spending package after an all-night vote.
  • Now, the bill heads to the Senate, where it'll likely be reshaped before becoming law.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to include progressive priorities like taxes on the rich, lower drug prices, expanded Medicare, and climate crisis measures.

After an all-night session, the House finally passed President Joe Biden's $2 trillion party-line social spending bill. The next hurdle is the Senate, where the package is likely to be reshaped as Democrats once again duke it out over which provisions are included.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, is already envisioning some changes. In a statement, Sanders said he hopes to see the bill "strengthened in a number of ways" in the Senate. 

Specifically, he's calling for the wealthiest Americans and large corporations to "pay their fair share of taxes." The slimmed-down framework omitted an increase of the corporate tax rate and the top tax rate for the highest-earning taxpayers. A billionaire's tax was also briefly in contention, but shot down within a day.

Sanders also called for lower prescription drug prices, and a Medicare expansion that would cover vision, dental, and hearing aids.

"Is that really too much to ask in the richest country on Earth — that elderly people have teeth in their mouth and can see and can hear?" Sanders said previously.

Sanders also said that the Senate must act "to combat the existential threat of climate change and transform our energy system away from fossil fuels."

For now, progressives are celebrating a win as their centerpiece legislation moves forward

Following its passage, progressives lauded the policies in the legislation, like universal pre-K and national paid and family leave. Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar celebrated the passage by dancing with a Build Back Better character on the steps of the Capitol building.

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Missouri Rep. Cori Bush wrote on Twitter that her vote for the bill "was for the home care workers in my district who urged me with teary eyes not to leave behind the part of the Build Back Better Agenda that took care of them too."

She added: "Senator Manchin: We're looking at you. The people must win."

Sanders and other progressives are likely to run up against opposition from key centrists Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who have been responsible for the package getting pared down from its original $3.5 trillion price tag. Sinema opposes higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations; Manchin has pushed back on provisions like paid leave, and the overall size of the package.

Manchin has frequently expressed concerns with the cost of the bill and how it will impact the US budget, but given the Congressional Budget Office's statement on Thursday that Democrats' proposed framework would add just $160 billion to the budget deficit over ten years, Manchin's inflation concerns might be eased. 

The bill now heads to the Senate, and Biden wrote in a statement on Friday that he hopes to sign a critical piece of his economic agenda into law "as soon as possible." Earlier this week, he signed his bipartisan infrastructure bill into law.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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