Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., will play a powerful role in shaping legislation now that Democrats control the House and Senate.
Sanders is set to become the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, where he will help determine the Democratic Party’s legislative priorities.
He will also be able to set the terms for budget reconciliation, a procedure that allows senators to approve certain tax and spending bills with a simple majority instead of the 60-vote threshold needed for most legislation. This will become particularly important since the Senate is split 50–50.
“Everybody on the Democratic side wins if we pass the most maximalist proposals that all 50 Democrats can agree on,” Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, told The Hill.
“What Bernie Sanders being Budget chair means is that there will be at least one strong advocate in the room for the maximalist equation,” he said.
Sanders’s newfound power will give congressional leftists real negotiating power instead of letting moderates such as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., set the rules, Green argued.
“You could see a scenario where it was [Senate Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer, Manchin and [Sen. Chris] Coons in the room, where they’d find things to agree on, but it would be $2 trillion less than what they could have passed,” Green explained.
However, Democrats’ razor-thin majority will prevent leftists from ramming controversial legislation through—even if they were to use the budget reconciliation option.
“In order to keep all Democrats on board, including the moderates and lawmakers representing red and purple areas, a tax bill will probably have to be scaled back from what the Biden campaign proposed and what progressives want,” said Brian Gardner, chief Washington policy strategist at the investment bank Stifel Financial Corp.
Congressional leftists have already unveiled a bold list of legislative priorities they plan to pursue now that they have control of the Senate.
Some of these priorities include: student-loan debt cancellation, the Green New Deal, the Equality Act, ‘Medicare for All,’ and a higher minimum wage.