- Bernie Sanders lambasted the Democrats’ key climate and health care bill as “the so-called Cut Inflation Act”.
- Sanders pointed out that a nonpartisan review found the legislation would have no immediate effect on inflation.
- Republicans also hit the name of the bill.
Senator Bernie Sanders lambasted the Democrats’ massive climate and health care bill on Saturday night as senators tried to push through a major part of Biden’s economic agenda after more than a year of debate.
“I want to take a moment to say a few words about the so-called Cut Inflation Act that we’re debating tonight,” Sanders said just after joining Democrats in advancing debate on the proposal. “I say supposedly because according to the CBO and other economic organizations that have studied this bill, it will actually have minimal impact on inflation.”
For much of the week, Sanders tore up the $740 billion proposal brokered by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin that would invest millions in green energy, cut the price of some prescription drugs and impose a minimum tax of 15% on large corporations.
Sanders’ mention of the CBO, or Congressional Budget Office, is a nod to the nonpartisan marker’s conclusion that the proposal is negligible, at least for the immediate future, NPR previously reported.
The Vermont Independent intends to introduce amendments to change the bill, such as a measure that would empower Medicare to pay an equal amount to the Department of Veterans Affairs for prescription drugs. Sanders then found himself alone as Democrats and Republicans defeated his amendment to cap prescription drug costs covered by Medicare Parts B and D by a vote of 99 to 1.
Both Georgia Democrats, the senses. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, then joined Sanders on an amendment that would require Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing benefits. But once again, the Vermont senator’s effort failed by a lopsided vote, this time 3 to 97. A Sanders Third Amendment to create a Civilian Climate Corps also failed to garner additional votes in favor. .
Republicans used the CBO’s findings as fodder to castigate the Democrats’ proposal. Some have already used Sanders’ exact approach by referring to the proposal as “the so-called Inflation Reduction Act.”
“I don’t find myself saying this very often. But on that point, I agree with Bernie,” Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the second Republican in the Senate, told Insider.
Sanders fumed over the items that were dropped of Biden’s broader “Build Back Better” agenda to advance the compromise, including universal pre-K, tuition-free community college and home care for the elderly.
The Vermont senator and former presidential candidate added that the legislation contains “good features” but also criticized its inclusion of a drug pricing provision that will take years to come into effect. He then called it an “incredibly lukewarm bill”. Sanders also removed provisions from the bill that would expand fossil fuel exploration, an addition that helped win Manchin’s support.
Sanders urged Democratic senators to address “major crises facing working families” during his speech on the floor.
“If we can’t do that, not only will people continue to suffer and suffer, but in my opinion, it’s questionable how long we’ll remain a democracy,” he said on Saturday.
Sen. Ron Wyden, who helped draft the bill as chairman of the powerful Finance Committee, said he shared Sanders’ hopes for a bill that would go further in many areas. But on drug pricing, in particular, Wyden argued that the bill still takes important steps.
“I said I’d like to do more myself, faster – there’s no doubt that those are my roots,” Wyden told reporters, adding that when faced with “between inaction and this , to me, that’s not a close call.”