Sanders, Warren Warn Senate Majority Will Be Used in 'Very Aggressive Way' if GOP Blocks Stimulus

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said he's prepared to pass major Senate Budget Committee legislation with a simple 51-vote majority, as he and other progressive lawmakers warned Republicans not to stall the next stimulus relief package because "we have the majority."

Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren made independent remarks this week stressing that Democrats must "deliver for America," even if congressional Republicans plan on holding up the next pandemic relief bill. Progressives are urging President Joe Biden and fellow Democratic lawmakers to capitalize on their first Senate majority in six years by leveraging the recently demoted Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Kentucky Republican is currently threatening filibusters and other obstructionist moves to slow Democrats' momentum. But Sanders said he will not hesitate to push bills through the Budget Committee with or without any GOP help - something he can accomplish through a process known as "budget reconciliation."

Top aides in the White House say President Joe Biden is determined to get a bipartisan deal. But Sanders and many Democrats, wary after months of GOP-led opposition to a second major relief package, say they are willing to move on without Republicans given their new majority in both the House and Senate. Both Sanders and Warren said the timely passage of another massive stimulus bill is more important than waiting on GOP lawmakers mired in gridlock.

Sanders, who is set to chair the powerful Senate Budget Committee, said he's willing to "reach out" to Republicans. But he's also determined to use a "budget reconciliation" move, which allows some major budgetary bills to be passed with a simple 51-vote majority as opposed to 60 votes where GOP senators would be needed for support. The Senate is currently split 50-50 along party lines, but Vice President Kamala Harris would cast the deciding vote in favor of Democrats.

We cannot reach out to Republicans indefinitely.

If they choose not to come on board to help the American people now, we have the majority. We should use that majority.

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 22, 2021

"I think we should reach out to Republicans. But if they choose not to come on board, which I suspect will probably be the case, we have the majority. We should use that majority in a very aggressive way," Sanders said on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

"I'm going to be chairman of the [Senate] Budget Committee, which handles what we call 'reconciliation.' That is a Senate process by which you can pass not all kinds of legislation, but a whole lot of very important legislation with a majority vote and not 60 votes. And it is my view, we should make sure that we address the needs of the American people in that reconciliation bill—and if we pass it with 51 votes, we'll pass it with 51 votes."

Meanwhile, Warren told The Washington Post in a story published Saturday: "It's important that Democrats deliver for America. If the best path to that is to do it in a way that can bring Republicans along, I'm all in favor of that. "But if Republicans want to cut back to the point that we're not delivering what needs to be done, then we need to be prepared to fight them. Our job is to deliver for the American people."

Echoing this desire for momentum, House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth and Washington Democratic Congresswoman Suzan DelBene also told the Post that many Democrats have little interest in negotiating with Republicans who for months refused to pass any additional relief for Americans.

"To haggle over every little provision of Biden's plan (with Republicans) might not be able to be done on a timely basis," Yarmuth, a Democratic congressman from Kentucky, said Friday.

Senator Rob Portman of Ohio joined a handful of Republicans who say they are looking forward to bipartisan package negotiations with the Biden and Democrats, but he cautioned "it's one thing to talk about outreach, another thing to do it." However, many Republicans are already claiming Biden has "overreached" in pushing for a $2 trillion package, which includes $1,400 direct stimulus checks to qualifying Americans.

Sanders on Saturday released a video which urged other members of Congress to move quickly on passing the next stimulus relief package for Americans struggling amid 10 months of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think we should do our best to reach out to Republicans who represent communities that are suffering terribly in terms of unemployment, lack of health care and other very serious problems. But I don't think our reaching out should go on indefinitely. This country today is hurting and people are hurting really, really badly. We have got to move and move quickly," Sanders said.

Newsweek reached out to both Sanders and Warren offices for additional remarks Saturday afternoon.

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Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (R) take a break during the Democratic presidential primary debate at Paris Las Vegas on February 19, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Six candidates qualified for the third Democratic presidential primary debate of 2020, which comes just days before the Nevada caucuses on February 22. MARIO TAMA / Staff/Getty Images