Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a hearing

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) listens during a committee hearing on February 17, 2022 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

In Jab at Manchin, Sanders Demands 'Strategic Pause' in Corporate Welfare

"Count me in as somebody who does not think that the taxpayers of this country need to provide Mr. Bezos a $10 billion bailout to fuel his space hobby," said the Vermont senator.

Jake Johnson

Repurposing a phrase right-wing Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin recently used to obstruct social spending and climate legislation, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday called for a "strategic pause" in corporate welfare, referring specifically to a bill that would hand around $53 billion in subsidies to the U.S. semiconductor industry.

"The time has come to take a strategic pause when it comes to providing tens of billions of dollars in corporate welfare."

The bill, known as the COMPETES Act, would also authorize an additional $10 billion in federal funding for moon landers, a provision that Sanders (I-Vt.) has slammed as "a bailout to Jeff Bezos so that his company Blue Origin can launch a rocket ship to the moon."

In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, the Vermont senator made the case for amendments that would attach conditions to the $53 billion in federal subsidies and strip out the $10 billion "bailout to Blue Origin."

Politico reported last week that "since NASA chose [billionaire Elon Musk's company] SpaceX a year ago to build its lunar lander, Blue Origin has been lobbying Congress and NASA to open the program back up for competition."

If approved, the $10 billion in the COMPETES Act would be granted to NASA to pick a company to build a second lander.

"Let me be very clear. Mr. Bezos has enough money to buy a very beautiful $500 million yacht—looks very nice to me," Sanders said Wednesday, pointing to a picture of the vessel.

Sanders went on to note that Bezos, the billionaire founder and executive chairman of Amazon, "has enough money to purchase a $23 million mansion with 25 bathrooms."

"Not quite sure you need 25 bathrooms, but that's not my business," the senator added. "So, no, count me in as somebody who does not think that the taxpayers of this country need to provide Mr. Bezos a $10 billion bailout to fuel his space hobby."

Sanders also urged lawmakers "not to provide $53 billion to the highly profitable micro-chip industry without protections for the American taxpayer."

"This is not a radical idea. These exact conditions were imposed on corporations that received taxpayer assistance in the bipartisan CARES Act, which passed the Senate 96 to 0," said Sanders, referring to a coronavirus relief package enacted in 2020. "In other words, every member of the U.S. Senate has already voted for the conditions that are in this amendment."

The House and Senate have both passed versions of the COMPETES Act, but the two bills must be reconciled before they can reach President Joe Biden's desk.

"One of my colleagues in the Democratic caucus has... suggested that we need to take a 'strategic pause' when it comes to making urgent federal investments in childcare, healthcare, education, affordable housing, paid family and medical leave, and home healthcare—policies that would substantially improve the lives of the American people," Sanders said in his floor remarks Wednesday.

"Well, you know what I believe?" he continued. "I believe that, maybe, just maybe, the time has come to take a 'strategic pause' when it comes to providing tens of billions of dollars in corporate welfare to some of the most profitable corporations and wealthiest people on this planet."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Green Groups Urge California Gov. Newsom to Close Aging Nuclear Plant on Schedule

"Diablo Canyon is dangerous, dirty, and expensive," a coalition of environmental organizations said in a letter to California's Democratic governor. "It must retire as planned."

Brett Wilkins ·

'After Which Failed Pregnancy Should I Have Been Imprisoned?' Asks Rep. Lucy McBath

The congresswoman highlighted how right-wing attacks on abortion rights could also impact the healthcare available to patients who experience miscarriages and stillbirths.

Jessica Corbett ·

'A Slap in the Face to Voters': Kansas Supreme Court Upholds GOP Map

"This case is only one skirmish in the wholesale assault on democracy in Kansas and around the country," said the head of the state's ACLU.

Jessica Corbett ·

Ahead of House Vote, Analysis Details How Big Oil Price Gouging Rewards Wall Street

"Congress has a narrow window of opportunity to stop profiteering at the pump and secure a more stable, sustainable future for all. It's time to act—before it's too late."

Brett Wilkins ·

'Major Milestone' as Rhode Island Expands Voting Rights

A newly passed measure was praised as "a huge step forward in improving and modernizing voting in the Ocean State."

Andrea Germanos ·

Common Dreams Logo