Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally with Amazon workers and union leaders

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally with Amazon workers and union leaders on April 24, 2022. (Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

Sanders Warns Congress Is Working 'Behind Closed Doors' on $50 Billion in Corporate Welfare

"If you can believe it," said the Vermont senator, "this legislation may also provide a $10 billion bailout to Jeff Bezos, the second-wealthiest person in America."

Jake Johnson

Sen. Bernie Sanders took to the Senate floor Wednesday to criticize fellow members of Congress for working to approve billions of dollars in handouts to major corporations as the country is embroiled in a worsening cost-of-living crisis, a deadly pandemic, and an intensifying climate emergency.

"This may be a radical idea in the halls of Congress, but no, I do not believe that this legislation should approve a $10 billion bailout for Jeff Bezos."

"What is Congress doing right now, at a time when we face so many massive problems?" asked Sanders, the chair of the Senate Budget Committee. "The answer is that for two months, a 107-member conference committee has been meeting behind closed doors to provide over $50 billion in corporate welfare with no strings attached to the highly profitable microchip industry."

"No, we're not talking about healthcare for all," the Vermont senator lamented. "No, we're not talking about making higher education affordable. No, we're not talking about making sure that young people can earn decent salaries when they become teachers. No, we're not talking about leading the world in combating climate change. We're talking about giving $50 billion in corporate welfare with no strings attached—a blank check—to the highly profitable microchip industry."

Watch:

The legislation drawing Sanders' ire is the long-stalled United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), a bill purportedly designed to bolster domestic semiconductor manufacturing—an industry that has been lavished with taxpayer subsidies in recent years—and ramp up investment in research and development.

As Politico describes it, the USICA "would shower the semiconductor industry with $52 billion of incentives to ramp up chip-making in America."

"China hawks like the bill because it makes the U.S. less reliant on Chinese imports," the outlet adds. "The Biden administration hails it as a policy that will strengthen the supply chain, boost domestic manufacturing, and 'help us outcompete China.'"

A bipartisan conference committee made up of lawmakers from both the House and the Senate is currently working to reconcile the differences between versions of the legislation passed by each chamber.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, is threatening to tank the bill entirely if Democrats move ahead with a party-line reconciliation package that aims to lower prescription drug prices and boost renewable energy funding.

Punchbowl reported Thursday that top Senate Democrats are mulling whether to just "pass $52 billion in funding for semiconductor manufacturers instead of a broad USICA package."

Sanders, who voted against the Senate bill's passage in March, has argued that the USICA should contain safeguards to ensure that taxpayer funding doesn't go to companies that engage in union-busting, offshore U.S. jobs, or buy back their own stock. In May, Republican and Democratic senators voted down motions from Sanders that encouraged such conditions.

The progressive senator has also spotlighted a provision of the USICA that would approve $10 billion in NASA funding for moon landers, money that Sanders has warned could benefit billionaire Jeff Bezos. Sanders has urged lawmakers to strip the provision from the bill.

"If you can believe it," Sanders said Wednesday, "this legislation may... provide a $10 billion bailout to Jeff Bezos, the second-wealthiest person in America, so that his company, Blue Origin, can launch a rocket ship to the moon."

"I know this may be a radical idea in the halls of Congress, but no, I do not believe that this legislation should approve a $10 billion bailout for Jeff Bezos to fly to the moon," Sanders added. "Maybe, just maybe, a middle class which is struggling, which is falling behind, should not see their taxpayer dollars go to the second-wealthiest person in America."


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.

Global Allies Stand With Walden Bello as Social Justice Champion Posts Bail in the Philippines

"Walden Bello's arrest is a violation of his fundamental rights, an affront to the institutions of Philippine democracy, and a threat to free expression everywhere," said the Progressive International council.

Jessica Corbett ·


Team Trump Reportedly 'Bullish' About Exploiting FBI Raid to Win Reelection

One former Trump aide-turned-"Big Lie" detractor said that the Justice Department may have "just handed Trump" the 2024 GOP nomination "or potentially the presidency."

Brett Wilkins ·


Pentagon Contractors in Afghanistan Pocketed $108 Billion Over 20 Years

Military contracting "obscures where and how taxpayer money flows," and "makes it difficult to know how many people are employed, injured, and killed," said the Costs of War Project report's author.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Enough Is Enough' Campaign Launched in UK to Fight Cost of Living Crisis

"Fair pay, affordable bills, enough to eat, and a decent place to live. These aren't luxuries—they are your rights!"

Kenny Stancil ·


Fetterman Demands Dr. Oz Answer for $50,000 Tax Break Intended for Pa. Farmers

"Dr. Oz does not want to live in Pennsylvania, and he doesn't want to pay taxes here; he just wants our Senate seat."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo