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Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks on the passing of former Sen. Mike Enzi, and $3.5 Trillion Budget Bill

U.S. Senator, Bernie Sanders, during a zoom interview with Wyoming News Now on July 29, 2021.
U.S. Senator, Bernie Sanders, during a zoom interview with Wyoming News Now on July 29, 2021.(Will Thomas)
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 5:39 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Current U.S. Senator representing Vermont and Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Bernie Sanders, spoke with Wyoming News Now on Thursday morning. Sen. Sanders began by having kind words for former Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi, who died on Monday from injuries suffered in a bicycling accident in Gillette.

“I knew Mike very well because Mike was Chairman of the Budget Committee, I was then ranking member, I’m Chairman now. So Mike and I worked together for a number of years. What I would say is look, he and I had very strong political and philosophical differences no question about that, but Mike was a very fair Chairman. He treated everybody with respect, I thought he ran the committee very well and in a sense I’m trying to follow in his footsteps. At the end of the day, where there’s so much partisanship and hostility here in D.C., he was not that person. He was a very, very decent person. I was proud to call him a friend and a coworker. He’s going to be missed very much and the people of Wyoming should be very proud of the kind of decent member of the Senate that he was.”

Sen. Sanders then turned his attention to two of the main bills that Congress is focused on right now. The infrastructure bill and a budget bill that he is proposing.

“There are two separate pieces of legislation moving in tandem. One is a so called bipartisan bill which deals with physical infrastructure: roads, bridges, tunnels, water systems and broadband. I suspect that Wyoming is like Vermont and every other state in the country, we have infrastructure which is in pretty bad shape. So there is a $580 Billion investment here, which would put a whole lot of people to work at good wages rebuilding our physical infrastructure, and I think that’s a step forward.

I am working as Chairman of the Budget Committee on another bill which is a $3.5 Trillion piece of legislation which addresses some of the long term structural problems facing our country. That is, we are going to address the reality, that in a time of massive income and wealth inequality, you have billionaires who pay almost nothing in federal income taxes. Very profitable, large corporations paying nothing in federal income taxes, that’s wrong. We are going to ask them to start paying their fair share of taxes so we can address the long term needs of working families. Now what are those? Right now if you are an average American, you are having a hard time raising your kids, it’s just expensive raising kids. So we’re going to do what countries all over the world do, and extend the child tax credit. Folks in Wyoming, Vermont, all over this country have begun to receive $300 per child tax credit, and we want to extend that for a number of years. If we do that, we are going to cut childhood poverty in this country by 50%. Another thing we are going to do is address childcare, which right now is much much too expensive. We are going to expand Medicare to start covering dental care. Many seniors cannot afford to go to a dentist, they can’t afford hearing aids, can’t afford eyeglasses, we intend to do that as well. We are the only major country on earth not to provide paid family and medical leave. There are women in Wyoming who are going to have a baby, they’re going to get back to work in a week because they don’t have paid leave, we’re the only major country in the world not to do that, we’re going to do that. We’re going to put a lot of money into affordable housing, so the people don’t have to spend 50% of their income. We’re going to improve home healthcare, so if you are an elderly person or a person with disabilities, you don’t have to go to a nursing home, you’ll have a well trained, well paid person coming to your home. We’re also going to make community colleges tuition free. The bottom line is, I think everybody knows that for the last many decades, Congress has worked very hard for the wealthy and the powerful. What we are trying to do now is say you know what? Maybe it’s time that Congress paid attention to the working class, the middle class of this country, not just wealthy campaign contributors.”

Though the infrastructure deal does have some bipartisan support, Sen. Sanders said his budget bill will not have any Republican support.

“In the two bills, the one that is being discussed is bipartisan. The one I am talking will not have any Republican support. Because unfortunately I am afraid my Republican colleagues are not interested in asking the wealthy and large corporations to start paying their fair share of taxes, they’re not interested in taking on the pharmaceutical industry so that Medicare can negotiate prescription drug prices. So one bill will be bipartisan, one bill will be with 50 Democrats plus the Vice President.”

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