Bernie Sanders Touts Budget Reconciliation for Joe Biden's Huge Infrastructure Plan

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has suggested reconciliation could be used to push through future infrastructure plans.

President Joe Biden outlined major spending for investments in infrastructure and clean energy during his presidential campaign, detailing his desire for $2 trillion in spending on these points over four years. (https://joebiden.com/clean-energy/)

Sanders, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, has suggested the reconciliation process could be used to get this through—which could allow it to be pushed forward without Republican support.

Sanders told Axios he would be prepared to use this means to pass the legislation, which would mean it only needing a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate to get through.

He told Axios: "We need to address the economic crisis facing working families, and a second reconciliation bill will go a long way to beginning that process."

Newsweek has contacted Sanders' office and the White House for comment.

Biden previously met with senators from both parties to discuss infrastructure.

"There's a lot we have to do," he told them, according to Reuters. "We just have to step up."

He has suggested infrastructure is not a "partisan issue," stating ahead of the meeting: "There are not many Republican or Democratic roads and bridges.

"Again, it's not—I really, honest to God, never have thought of the—of infrastructure as being a partisan issue."

A webpage detailing Biden's infrastructure plans on his campaign website said: "Biden will create millions of good, union jobs building and upgrading a cleaner, safer, stronger infrastructure – including smart roads, water systems, municipal transit networks, schools, airports, rail, ferries, ports, and universal broadband access – for all Americans, whether they live in rural or urban areas.

"Americans deserve infrastructure they can trust: infrastructure that is resilient to floods, fires, and other climate threats, not fragile in the face of these increasing risks."

While Sanders has mentioned using means to push forward with Biden's plans which could dodge the need for Republican support, Biden has frequently talked about wanting to pass measures in a bipartisan manner.

The discussion of reconciliation being used for infrastructure comes with Democrats in Congress having used this to advance Biden's COVID-19 relief plans.

This has been criticized for being a partisan process by Republican lawmakers.

The relief package passed the House Budget Committee on Monday and is due to be voted on by the House this week.

It would then move to the Senate, where it is likely to face further push back and there are questions over whether the aspect of a boost to the minimum wage is procedurally able to pass through reconciliation.

While this point remains uncertain, if the entire Democrat caucus in the Senate unites behind the others measures they could get through without any Republicans backing them. The Democrats hold a thin majority in the Senate. There are 48 Democratic senators and two independents who caucus with them and 50 Republican senators, splitting the chamber 50-50. But in the instance of a 50-50 split Vice President Kamala Harris has the tiebreaking vote, which gives the Democrats a majority.

bernie sanders at committee hearing
Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-VT) speaks at a Senate Committee on the Budget hearing on Capitol Hill on February 10, 2021 in Washington, D.C. He has suggested reconciliation could be used to push through infrastructure spending. Andrew Harnik/Getty Images