Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sen. Bernie Sanders waves at demonstrators on Capitol Hill

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) waves to demonstrators outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on August 1, 2022. (Photo: Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Sanders Announces Amendment to Strip All Fossil Fuel Handouts From Manchin Deal

The Vermont senator will also introduce an amendment to strengthen the reconciliation bill's drug price reforms.

Jake Johnson

Sen. Bernie Sanders announced Wednesday that he will be filing amendments to remove fossil fuel industry giveaways from Democrats' new reconciliation bill and strengthen the legislation's drug price provisions, which the Vermont senator has characterized as unacceptably weak.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Sanders reiterated the message he delivered in Tuesday remarks outlining what he sees as the deep flaws of the reconciliation package, the product of months of negotiations primarily between fossil fuel industry ally Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

"We have got to do everything possible to take on the greed of the fossil fuel industry, not give billions of dollars in corporate welfare to an industry that has been actively destroying our planet," Sanders said in his Wednesday speech. "I will be introducing an amendment to do just that."

According to Warren Gunnels, Sanders' staff director, the amendment would "eliminate all of the fossil fuel giveaways in the so-called 'Inflation Reduction Act,'" a proposed change that's sure to draw opposition from Manchin.

One section Sanders is targeting is the requirement that millions of acres of public lands be offered for oil drilling as a condition for new solar and wind development. He also warned that the measure in its current form would give the oil and gas industry "billions of dollars in new tax breaks and subsidies over the next 10 years."

"It might seem a bit incongruous to people why we are rewarding the people whose emissions are driving the temperature of the Earth up and causing massive destruction," the senator said, "but that is in fact what this bill does."

Sanders also said he intends to introduce an amendment that would ensure Medicare "pays no more for prescription drugs" than the Department of Veterans Affairs. At present, the reconciliation bill includes limited provisions that would require Medicare to negotiate the prices of a small number of drugs directly with pharmaceutical companies, which are lobbying aggressively against the proposal.

A recent study by the Government Accountability Office found that in 2017, Medicare Part D—the prescription drug benefit provided through government-approved private plans—paid twice as much as the Department of Veterans Affairs on average for the same medicines.

"How insane is it that you have one federal agency called the VA that pays 50% of what Medicare pays," Sanders said Wednesday. "I mean, how crazy is that?"

"When it comes to reducing the price of prescription drugs under Medicare, we don't have to reinvent the wheel," he continued. "We could simply require Medicare to pay no more for prescription drugs than the VA pays, end of discussion... And if we did that, we could save Medicare some $900 billion over the next decade. That is nine times more savings than the rather weak negotiation provision in this bill."

The Vermont senator's criticism of the reconciliation bill and his proposed fixes come as Democrats are racing to complete work on the package by the end of this week and pass it before recess is scheduled to start on August 8.

The Senate parliamentarian is currently examining provisions of the legislation and preparing to advise lawmakers on whether each section complies with the arcane rules of budget reconciliation, raising the possibility of last-minute changes to the bill.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), meanwhile, is reportedly pushing for the removal of carried interest provisions aimed at limiting the ability of private equity moguls and hedge fund managers to dodge taxes. Sinema, whose vote is necessary for final passage, has yet to publicly express support for the bill.

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.

Ilhan Omar Fends Off Primary Challenger Boosted by Right-Wing PAC Money

"Ilhan Omar has faced some of the ugliest attacks of any elected official and had hundreds of thousands of dollars spent against her," said Sen. Bernie Sanders. "Despite this, she won her primary once again."

Jake Johnson ·

'Let's Send Ron Johnson Packing': Mandela Barnes Wins Wisconsin Senate Primary

"We're going to the Senate to rebuild the middle class," said Barnes. "We're going to protect the right to choose. We're going to fight to make the American Dream an American reality."

Jake Johnson ·

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 ·

Common Dreams Logo