Opinion: Bernie Sanders’s Position as Chairman of Senate Budget Committee is Pivotal for Ushering Bi
Updated: Oct 15, 2021
Bernie Sanders, Vermont Senator and congressional representative for almost three decades, just received a new position as Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. In the next few years, Bernie will be a vital force for pushing Biden’s ambitious plans through Congress.
Budget Committee, Bernie’s not-so-secret Weapon
The Senate Budget Committee is a relatively new agent created in the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. Now arguably one of the most powerful committees in Congress, its primary functions are to draft budget plans for the United States House of Representatives and Senate and enforce and monitor laws around the federal budget, revenue, and spending.
With the Democrats securing the Senate majority after a narrow win in the Georgia runoffs, New York Senator and Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer were able to place Bernie Sanders as the Budget Committee chair. A great fear for many Republicans, a self-proclaimed “Democratic socialist” now holds the keys to the U.S. government’s budget.
With these keys comes another incredible power: reconciliation. Created in the same act that birthed the budget committee itself, this power catalyzes any legislation that could hold a significant effect on the federal budget. More specifically, spending, debt limit, and tax legislation. When reconciliation is used in the Senate, a filibuster is not allowed, and the number of amendments that can be added to the proposed legislation is limited.
Sanders’s “Aggressive” Plans While Acting Chair
While carrying out his term, Bernie has made it clear that he will be a major force. “We must absolutely move forward aggressively in dealing with the economic crisis facing working families today…We have to start the process of rebuilding the economy and creating the millions of good-paying jobs that we need,” Bernie said in a recent interview with Politico.
When asked about his plans to utilize reconciliation, Bernie again used the word aggressive. “I’m going to use reconciliation in as aggressive a way as I possibly can to address the terrible health and economic crises facing working people today.”
In another recent tweet, Sanders stated, “When Republicans controlled the Senate, they used the reconciliation process to provide huge tax breaks for the rich and large corporations. We’re going to use reconciliation to protect working families, the sick and the poor.”
Bernie Sanders has also discussed his plans while acting chair. His main goals include cutting back on military spending, focusing on the economy, providing free healthcare during the pandemic, creating “good-paying” jobs, and implementing climate-friendly policy.
Republicans Prepare for a Fight
A united government, where one group controls both the Senate and Presidency, can cause some contention. Right now, it’s tipped in the Democrats’ favor, and the Republicans’ worst fears are coming to fruition. “They’re gonna raise your taxes; they’re gonna impose regulations on the economy…they’re going to try to implement parts of the green new deal and medicare for all through budget reconciliation. I’ve got a fight on my hands,” Lindsay Graham said in a recent statement.
The GOP’s anxiety over Bernie becoming the chair of the Senate Budget Committee tracks back to 2016, when then-Speaker of the GOP-controlled House Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said, “If we lose the Senate, do you know who becomes chair of the Senate Budget Committee? A guy named Bernie Sanders. You ever heard of him?”
Even while Republicans prepare for a long fight ahead of them, bipartisanship is not out of view. “Here’s what I think republicans need to do. Work with Biden where we can. Maybe on infrastructure,” said Graham later in his statement. Though Democrats control the government right now, Republicans believe that they will soon take back control in 2022. For now, fights and reluctant bipartisanship.
Bernie Works With Biden
“We agreed that we’ll work closely, on our shared agenda of increasing worker power, and to protect the dignity of work for all working people,” Biden said about his relationship with Bernie in a speech earlier this year.
Bernie voiced the same sentiments in a recent interview, “We’re working with Biden’s people. We’re working with Democratic leadership. We’ll be working with my colleagues in the House to figure out how we can come up with the most aggressive reconciliation bill to address the suffering of the American working families today.”
Bernie is essential for pushing Biden’s economic relief plans, healthcare plans, and ambitious environmental agenda. With the help of reconciliation, Democrats are steadily chipping away at their goals, with Bernie leading the charge as chairman of Budget.
Through Teen Lenses: How do you feel about Bernies’ new Position as Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee?
“I think all of that [democratic socialism] stuff sounds great but, I don’t think America can do it in a snap of a finger. You can’t just immediately switch over to not having to pay for college that quickly. But I think all of those ideas are ideal. I’m excited for Bernies changes because I feel like those ideals will focus more on what the people want rather than how much money the government wants. I fully agree with [Bernie’s plans].”
Luke Cambrone, 16, Junior at Tartan High School, Oakdale, MN
“I agree with [democratic socialism] because I think that college should be, if not free, at least cheaper, because right now it’s really hard for students to get into college… Personally, I don’t think that [Bernie being chair of the budget committee] will affect me that much, just because I’m underage and don’t have a job yet, so I’m not making money, and I’m not paying taxes. But if I look at it from my parent’s perspective, it’s a little scary to have someone controlling your money, but I think that would be the same with anyone. I agree mostly [with Bernie’s plans]; the only issue that I have is with the higher-paying jobs… increasing the minimum wage right now, I feel like businesses can’t afford that. There isn’t enough business going in and out with the pandemic. Especially for mom and pop businesses.”
Ella Fahey, 15, Sophomore at Tartan High School, Oakdale, MN