US Sen. Bernie Sanders wants Iowans to know how Congressional Democrats are working to improve their lives.
Reform ideas long championed by Democrats are planned for the budget resolution passed by the US House of Representatives on Tuesday. The budget resolution is a framework for total spending goals.
The resolution for this budget is $3.5 trillion and includes funding to invest in improvements to education access, fighting climate change, supporting people in the workforce, and reducing overall economic and social inequality.
Though the policy details are being worked out, Sanders journeyed to Cedar Rapids on Sunday afternoon to share the highlights Democrats hope will be in the bill.
He described the framework as the biggest, most consequential investment since President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s.
“What this bill says, loudly and clearly, is that now is the time for Congress to have the courage to stand up to the powerful, big-money interests that have so much economic and political power in our country,” Sanders said.
Some high-priority items include universal pre-K, an expansion of the Pell Grant for higher education and tuition-free community college, further development of clean energy, investments in child care, increased family and medical leave, and expanding Medicare to include coverage for vision, dental, and hearing.
Sanders emphasized the popularity of these measures among the American people despite its lack of support from Congressional Republicans. People who attended the event broadly supported the plans but didn’t have a particular favorite aspect of it.
“There’s no point in addressing one thing if they’re not addressing everything,” said Christine McMahon, who lives in Linn County. “If you’re not doing one part the rest falls apart.”
She said every piece of it fits together and every piece is long overdue.
The framework has already passed the Senate, meaning the next step is writing the specifics.
Notably, the bill will be paid for in part by imposing higher taxes on large corporations and on families who make more than $400,000 annually. Taxes for families making less than that won’t be affected by this proposal.
Republicans in the Senate aren’t expected to support this bill, so Iowas US Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst likely won’t vote for its passage.
Because of that, the plan is to pass the budget through the reconciliation process, which means it will only require a majority of votes in the Senate rather than the 60 most bills are subject to.
Cindy Dunham, another event attendee, said she wished it didn’t have to come down to that, but she thinks the contents are too important to leave up to long negotiation or compromise.
“There are so many things that need attention,” she said. “It’s an all-encompassing thing.”
Sanders pointed out Republicans used the reconciliation process during Trump’s administration to successfully pass tax cuts for the rich and to unsuccessfully attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“I do find it rather shocking that Republicans, who just a few years ago were prepared to vote for massive tax breaks for the rich, to throw 30 million people off their health care, that at this point we cannot get one Republican vote to help the working families of Iowa and America,” he said.
Sanders was in Iowa on Sunday because the First Congressional District went to Trump by more points in 2020 than it did in 2016. The senator visited Indiana on Friday for the same reason.
Dunham and McMahon said they’re not bothered by the cost; they just want all of the Democrats to work together to get it passed.
Other attendees shared that sentiment.
“As long as it has a good outcome for it, money is not one of my concerns,” said Peyton Saunders, a college student at Coe College who’s particularly interested in early childhood education and resources for people who work in child care.
Sanders thinks the country must not only address existing problems but also make progress, and that the power of everyone demanding these changes together is what it will take to get it done.
“These are tough times, but I’m here in Iowa to tell you if we can stand together we can not only address these problems, but we can move our country forward,” Sanders said.
“What this legislation is about to me personally is not just improving life for millions and millions of working people, it is making people understand that government can in fact, in a democratic society, work for working families and not just the wealthy and the powerful.”
by Nikoel Hytrek