Sanders ‘accepts’ $3.5T pricetag for budget bill will have to be lowered

Sen. Bernie Sanders conceded on Sunday that the reconciliation bill’s $3.5 trillion pricetag will likely be lowered to appease the moderate Democratic hold-outs. 

‘The $3.5 trillion should be a minimum, but I accept that there’s gonna have to be give and take,’ the progressive from Vermont said on ABC’s This Week.  

Sanders and other Democratic lawmakers who appeared on the Sunday shows played coy when asked how low they would go as negotiations drag on, with a new deadline of Halloween to get President Joe Biden‘s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill across the line. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders conceded on Sunday that the reconciliation bill’s $3.5 trillion pricetag will likely be lowered to appease the moderate Democratic hold-outs

On Thursday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had to delay a promised vote on the infrastructure bill, which moderates in the party support, because House progressives planned to tank it – a way they hoped to get moderates to back the $3.5 trillion social spending bill that contains a grab bag of progressive priorities.

The $3.5 trillion bill currently includes climate change provisions, universal pre-K, child care assistance, tuition-free community college, paid medical and family leave, the extension of the child tax credit and enhanced Medicare coverage. 

Pelosi’s delay sparked fury among moderates including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who called it ‘inexcusable,’ in a statement Saturday. 

Progressives have voiced frustration because Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin – the two moderate hold-outs – haven’t specifically defined what they’d support.   

On Meet the Press, Sanders swatted back saying, ‘I think the people of Arizona are beginning to stand up and show some impatience there and saying, “You know, Senator, join the team here. Let’s get something done on reconciliation.”‘ 

When Biden visited Capitol Hill Friday, he reportedly told Democrats that the reconciliation bill would be slashed to $2 trillion.  

'Well, that's not going to happen,' Rep. Pramila Jayapal said when asked about a $1.5 trillion pricetag for the reconciliation bill

‘Well, that’s not going to happen,’ Rep. Pramila Jayapal said when asked about a $1.5 trillion pricetag for the reconciliation bill 

On ABC’s This Week, Sanders wouldn’t confirm that.    

‘Well, first of all, I’m not sure that that’s accurate, as you know there’s a lot of gossip that goes on,’ Sanders said, when This Week’s host Jonathan Karl floated the number. 

‘What the president has said is that there’s going to have to be some give and take and I think that that’s right,’ the Vermont senator added. 

When Karl played a clip of Sen. Joe Manchin – one of the two moderate Senate Democratic hold-outs – saying that he wanted a $1-$2 trillion reconciliation bill paid for, Sanders ignored the pricetag the West Virginia Democrat had said.

‘If you just listen, Jonathan, if you just listen to what Manchin said, he said it wants to be paid for. He’s right. I want it to be paid for. And in fact that is exactly what we are going to do. And if it’s $3.5 trillion, we can pay for it,’ Sanders said. 

Over on CNN’s State of the Union, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Pramila Jayapal did say that $1.5 trillion was too small.

‘Well, that’s not going to happen,’ she told CNN’s Dana Bash.  

She wouldn’t say, however, if progressives would be content with a $2 trillion reconciliation bill.    

‘I don’t feel the need to give a number, because I gave my number. It was $3.5. So, if you’re in a negotiation, you need to have a counteroffer before you bid against yourself,’ she explained.  

‘It would be like buying a house … and going in to make an offer, and then somebody says, “Well, what’s the lowest number you would take?” Why would I do that?’ Jayapal continued. 

Jayapal did suggest that the final bill would be ‘somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 [trillion].’  

She said one way Democrats were looking to decrease the price was to shorten some of the programs so that they weren’t funded over the full 10-year period the reconciliation bill is expected to cover. 

‘So our idea now is to look at how you make them funded for a little bit of a shorter time,’ Jayapal explained. ‘And we’re also going through some of the smaller things that were in there just to see, what are those things and do they need to be in there as well? That right there will probably cut out a decent amount, small things that were in there or things that we might be able to fund through an appropriations process,’ she added. 

Jayapal said that some of the climate change provisions should stay intact.  

‘I think that the clean electricity standards really do need to be in there for a 10-year period, because it takes time to cut carbon emissions. And we need to have that certainty in order for the market to move in that direction,’ she said.  

While Democratic lawmakers continued to deliberate, Biden spent the weekend in Wilmington, Delaware, golfing on Saturday and going to church with his daughter-in-law and grandchildren on Sunday.  

The White House said the president will hit the road this week in order to sell the bills to the America people, but no details on his travel have been provided yet.  

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