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U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) gestures as he speaks to striking Kellogg's workers in downtown Battle Creek, Michigan on December 17, 2021.

US Senator Bernie Sanders gestures as he speaks to striking Kellogg's workers in downtown Battle Creek, Michigan, on December 17, 2021. (Photo: Seth Herald / AFP via Getty Images)

No More Backroom Deals—Let the American People See Who Is Willing to Fight for Them

It's time for lawmakers from both parties to show—with their actions not empty promises—whether or not they are the side of this country's working people.

Bernie Sanders

The following is based on an email sent to supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday, January 26, 2022:

Here is the political dilemma that we face.

"After six months of 'negotiating' behind closed doors with these two conservative Democratic Senators there is widespread understanding that this strategy has failed not only from a policy point of view, but politically as well."

This year we have brought forth, through the Build Back Better Act, an agenda that in an unprecedented way addresses the long-neglected needs of the working families of our country who are struggling through the worst public health crisis in 100 years. And this is an agenda which is enormously popular.

Yes. The American people want to lower the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs, significantly improve home health care, expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision needs, lower the rate of childhood poverty, provide affordable child care and build the affordable housing we desperately need.

Yes. The American people want us to save the planet for future generations and create hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs by transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy.

Yes. The American people want us to reform a regressive tax system which, at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, enables some of the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations in the country to pay nothing in federal income taxes.

Yes. That’s what the American people want. That’s what the U.S. House of Representatives want. That’s what 48 members of the U.S. Senate Democratic Caucus want.

But that’s not what any Republican Senator wants. That’s not what two Democratic Senators, Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema, want.

After six months of “negotiating” behind closed doors with these two conservative Democratic Senators there is widespread understanding that this strategy has failed not only from a policy point of view, but politically as well. The base of the Democratic Party is now demoralized and, according to many polls, Republicans stand a strong chance of winning the House and the Senate in the 2022 elections.

We need a new direction, a new approach. We need to show the American people that we are prepared to stand up and fight for the working families of this country. We need to take on the powerful special interests and their lobbyists who oppose every major initiative that threatens their wealth and power. We need to demand that every Republican and every Democrat in the Senate finally cast votes on the most important issues facing our country. No more backroom negotiations. No more endless conversations. Let the American people know where their Senators stand and who is prepared to fight for their interests. And that’s not just Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema.

As the recent outcome on the Voting Rights bill clearly shows, today’s Republican Party has become an anti-democracy party doing all it can to make it harder for American citizens to vote and participate in the political process. But that’s not all. Republicans have also become an extremely reactionary party focused on tax breaks for billionaires, ignoring the reality of climate change, working overtime to keep the cost of prescription drugs high and denying people the health care they need during the middle of a global pandemic.

So yes, we must continue to work to pass the Build Back Better agenda.

"As the recent outcome on the Voting Rights bill clearly shows, today’s Republican Party has become an anti-democracy party doing all it can to make it harder for American citizens to vote and participate in the political process."

But we must also bring important pieces of legislation that improve life for working families on to the floor of the Senate, and if Republicans (and a few Democrats) want to vote against them, that is their right. They will then have to explain their votes to their constituents. That’s called democracy.

Let the American people see that not one single Republican will vote to permanently expand the $300 per child direct monthly payments for working families that reduced the childhood poverty rate by 40% but expired on December 15.

Let the American people see that not one single Republican will vote to create millions of good paying jobs to combat the existential threat of climate change.

Let the American people see that not one single Republican will vote to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Let the American people see that not one single Republican will vote to lower prescription drug costs by empowering Medicare to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry.

Let the American people see that not one single Republican will vote to expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision.

Let the American people see not one single Republican will vote to expand home health care, repeal the Trump tax cuts, pass paid family and medical leave, universal Pre-K and the right to organize.

Let the American people see what is happening.

Let the American people know there is a stark and clear choice between the parties.

And then let the American people vote.

We are at a crossroads in the coming election. We can either continue down the current course and face likely defeat in November. Or we can stand up, fight for working families and show the country how reactionary and out-of-touch the Republican Party is.


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

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. Sanders ran to become the Democratic Party presidential nominee in both 2016 and 2020 and remains the longest-serving independent member of Congress in American history. Elected Mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1981, he served four terms. Before his 1990 election as Vermont's at-large member in Congress, Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York.

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