Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to reporters

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) talks to reporters while leaving the U.S. Capitol on August 9, 2021. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

Sanders Demands House Dems Vote Down Bipartisan Bill If Reconciliation Package Not Secured

"Physical infrastructure is important," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, "but the needs of working families and combating climate change is more important."

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday implored his colleagues in the House to vote against a Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill until Congress approves a far-reaching reconciliation package that includes anti-poverty measures and climate action.

"I strongly urge my House colleagues to vote against the bipartisan infrastructure bill until Congress passes a strong reconciliation bill," Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement.

Even though the Democrats' $3.5 trillion social infrastructure package is not yet ready, a widely criticized bipartisan physical infrastructure bill is expected to be brought to the House floor on Thursday, after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)--who said in June that the lower chamber would not take up either piece of legislation until the Senate passed both--reneged on her earlier pledge and scheduled a vote on the $550 billion bipartisan deal.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, has made clear that--in keeping with the two-track plan that Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and President Joe Biden outlined months ago--dozens of House Democrats are prepared to vote against the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF) this week to secure passage of the more ambitious Build Back Better Act.

Senate Budget Committee Chair Sanders on Tuesday encouraged his fellow progressives to hold the line, warning that prematurely approving the BIF would essentially kill the popular Build Back Better Act.

"Let's be crystal clear," said Sanders. "If the bipartisan infrastructure bill is passed on its own on Thursday, this will be in violation of an agreement that was reached within the Democratic Caucus in Congress."

"More importantly, it will end all leverage that we have to pass a major reconciliation bill," Sanders continued. "That means there will be no serious effort to address the long-neglected crises facing the working families of our country, the children, the elderly, the sick, and the poor."

"It also means that Congress will continue to ignore the existential threat to our country and planet with regard to climate change," he added.

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