Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday called out two moderate Democratic senators for blocking key aspects of President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.
In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sanders singled out Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona for their resistance to Democrats’ nearly $2 trillion climate and social spending legislation, dubbed Build Back Better.
“It should not be a head-scratcher. You’ve got two members of the Senate, Sen. Manchin and Sen. Sinema, who have sabotaged what the president has been fighting for,” Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with Democrats, said.
“You’ve got 48 members of the Senate who wanted to go forward with an agenda that helped working families, that was prepared to take on the wealthy and the powerful,” Sanders said. “You got a president who wanted to do that.”
Senate Democrats struggled for much of last year to cobble together spending legislation that could pass on a party-line vote and make it to Biden’s desk.
Manchin and Sinema have opposed key elements of the Build Back Better package, with Manchin delivering a death blow to the massive package late last year. The pair have also opposed changing the 50-50 Senate’s 60-vote threshold for advancing legislation to allow Democrats to pass other legislative priorities.
As chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders has been a major player in Build Back Better.
In the fallout of the failure of Build Back Better, Sanders has suggested he’d back progressive primary challenges to Manchin and Sinema, who are both up for reelection in 2024.
“You have a better word than ‘sabotage’? That’s fine. But I think that is the right word,” Sanders said in exchange with host Chuck Todd. “And I think pressure has got to be put on the part of people in West Virginia, in Arizona, to say, you know what, why don’t you stand up for ordinary Americans and not just your wealthy campaign contributors. Why don’t you have the guts to take on the drug companies and the insurance companies and the fossil fuel industry?”
Top Democrats have said they aim to revive a slimmed-down bill this year, though no new plans have emerged so far.