Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said Sunday of ABC’s “This Week” that he was “absolutely confident” Senate Democrats could pass President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief package without any votes from Republicans.
Partial transcript as follows:
ANCHOR MARTHA RADDATZ: The Democrats seem prepared to pass Biden’s COVID relief package with or without Republican support, which has been shrinking in recent days. Did the president overestimate the appetite for bipartisanship?
SANDERS: Look, Martha, we all want bipartisanship. And I think you’re going to see more of it as we move down the pipe. You’re going to see bipartisanship on infrastructure. There are a lot of Republicans who are outraged by the high cost of prescription drugs in this country. We pay ten times more than other countries do for certain drugs. We are going to look forward to working with Republicans. But right now this country faces an unprecedented set of crisis. We have families who are watching this program right now who cannot feed their kids. We have millions of people who face eviction. We are in the midst of the worst pandemic in 100 years. We have got to act, and we have got to act now. We just don’t have — I’m sorry.
RADDATZ: Senator, you’ve said you can’t reach out to Republicans indefinitely and Democrats should use the majority, but this morning we are hearing 10 GOP senators have a new plan. So is it a mistake for Democrats to consider abandoning bipartisanship negotiations so soon?
SANDERS: Martha, the issue is not, you know, bipartisanship or not. The issue is, are we going to address the incredible set of crises and the pain and the anxiety which is in this country. You know what, I don’t care what anybody says, we have got to deal with this pandemic, we have got to make sure that we are producing the vaccines that we need and get those vaccines into the arms of the people. We cannot have children in America going hungry, people being evicted, schools not open. We need to open our schools in a safe way. That’s what we have to do. So the question is not bipartisanship, the question is addressing the unprecedented crisis that we face right now. If Republicans want to work with us, they have better ideas on how to address those crises, that’s great. But to be honest with you, I have not yet heard that.
RADDATZ: Does your party have the votes to pass the relief package through the reconciliation process if you decide to go that route?
SANDERS: Yes, I believe that we do because it’s hard for me to imagine any Democrat, no matter what state he or she may come from, who doesn’t understand the need to go forward right now in an aggressive way to protect the working families of this country. Look, all of us will have differences of opinion. This is a $1.9 trillion bill. I have differences and concerns about this bill. But at the end of the day, we’re going to support the President of the United States, and we’re going to come forward, and we’re going to do what the America people overwhelmingly want us to do. The polling is overwhelming. Republicans, Democrats, independents.
RADDATZ: Senator you say you’re confident about the Democrats, but I saw Joe Manchin from West Virginia this weekend, and he has made remarks after watching Kamala Harris being interviewed about this relief package, saying, no one called me about that. We’re going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward. I think we need to do that. We need to work together. That’s not a way of working together. Are you still confident?
SANDERS: Yes, I am absolutely confident. And I’ll tell you also why, Joe Manchin is a chairman, I’m a chairman, Democrats have majority because of the fact that we won two seats with great candidates in Georgia. And, obviously, those candidates won the support of the people of Georgia but that campaign, in many ways, was a national campaign.
And what those candidates said is, yes, we are going to provide checks of $2,000/$1,400 (ph) on top of the $600. Yes, we’re going to extend unemployment benefits. Yes, we are going to address the needs of working families. The entire Democratic Party came together behind the candidates of Georgia. We made promises to the American people. And if politics means anything, if you’re going to have any degree of creditability, you don’t want your campaign on a series of issues and then after the election when you get power say, oh well, you know what, changing our mind. That’s not the way it works.