Speaking about President Joe Biden’s stalled legislative agenda, Sen. Bernie Sanders accused Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin of using “sabotage” to block both Build Back Better and legislation that would shore up voting rights against Republican voter suppression. The GOP meanwhile, he said, is “laughing all the way to election day.”
“You got 50 Republicans who don’t want to do anything except criticize the president,” Sanders said on CNN’s State of the Union. “You have, sadly enough, two Democrats who choose to work with the Republicans rather than the president and who have sabotaged the president’s efforts to address the needs of working families in this country. Is it frustrating? It sure is.”
“You got 50 Republicans who don’t want to do anything except criticize the president. And then you have, sadly enough, two Democrats who choose to work with the Republicans rather than the president, and who have sabotaged the president’s effort …”
— Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) pic.twitter.com/TKacjfBtOd
— The Recount (@therecount) January 23, 2022
At another point in the interview, Sanders said that Democratic infighting gives an advantage to Republicans in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections, when the GOP is poised to potentially regain control of the House and Senate. “What has bothered me very much is the Republicans are laughing all the way to election day,” Sanders said. “They have not had to cast one bloody vote… which shows us where they’re at. And we have got to change that.”
By not bringing legislation to the floor, Sanders accused his party of letting the GOP “get away with murder.”
“We have allowed the Republicans to get away with murder,” Sanders said. “They haven’t had to vote on anything. Now if they want to vote against lowering the cost of prescription drugs, expanding Medicaid, dealing with child care, dealing with housing, let them vote, and let Manchin and Sinema decide which side they are on.”
He added, “And when all of that shakes out we’ll see where we are. I have the feeling that we will be able to get 50 votes or more on some of these issues. We could put that piece together and then pass something that’s very significant.”
Bernie Sanders on CNN says "we need a new approach in the Senate. I think after 6 months of negotiating, so called 'negotiating'…we need to start voting. We need to bring important pieces of legislation that impact the lives of working families right on the floor of the Senate" pic.twitter.com/ZDGxQNvEp8
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 23, 2022
But, Sanders drew a line on NBC’s Meet the Press, saying he isn’t willing to support just any compromise that Biden might reach with Manchin. “Can President Biden count on your vote in the Senate with almost any compromise he comes up with with Manchin?” host Chuck Todd asked.
“No … no, absolutely not. You have to look at what that so-called compromise is,” Sanders said.
Sanders applauded the Arizona Democratic Party’s decision to censure Sinema this past week for her role in blocking voting rights legislation by opposing changes to the filibuster that would have created an exception to the 60-vote threshold for bills like the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. “Good,” Sanders said of the censure.
The senator continued, “Right now you have a Republican Party under Trump’s leadership that is perpetuating this Big Lie that Trump actually won the election, and therefore, you have 19 Republican states that are moving very aggressively into voter suppression, into extreme gerrymandering. … And it was absolutely imperative that we change the rules so that we could pass strong voting rights legislation. All Republicans voted against us, two Democrats voted against us. That was a terrible, terrible vote. And I think what the Arizona Democratic Party did was exactly right.”
.@chucktodd: "Sen. Sinema, she was censured by the Arizona Democratic Party."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): "Good." pic.twitter.com/wAnhGQe4N1
— The Recount (@therecount) January 23, 2022
Sanders on State of the Union even said he would be “happy to support” primary challenges to both Sinema and Manchin in 2024, as long as those opposing candidates were “strong candidates … who are prepared to stand up for working families, who understand that the Democratic Party has got to be the party of working people, taking on big money interests.”
While saying it's a "long way coming,' Bernie Sanders says he "would be happy to support" primary candidates against Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema "who were prepared to stand up for working families" and "taking on big-money interests." pic.twitter.com/sh6KBm2gmv
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) January 23, 2022
“If those candidates were in Arizona and West Virginia, yes, I’d be happy to support them,” he said.