“Damn right we will,” Sanders, I-Vt., told reporters at the Capitol Tuesday. “I mean there is a process called reconciliation.”
Sanders is the incoming chairman of the Budget Committee in a divided 50-50 Senate. The newly sworn-in Vice President Kamala Harris would cast the 51st tie-breaking vote to give Democrats the slimmest majority.
Without getting rid of the filibuster, most major legislation needs to overcome a 60-vote procedural threshold to advance to a final vote. Even if all Democrats are united, they would need buy-in from 10 Republicans to advance big legislation to overcome the cloture rule.
There’s a way around the 60-vote requirement to end debate under a special process known as budget reconciliation that moves legislation with a simple majority vote. For example, Republicans passed their $1.5 trillion tax legislation with budget reconciliation and no Democratic support in 2017.
Sanders has signaled a willingness to pass legislation without GOP support by using this special process that’s reserved for tax and fiscal matters. The first test could be Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief legislation that is the first priority for the new Democratic administration.
Biden’s COVID-19 proposal also includes a provision to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, vaccine funding, money for schools and state and local governments — priorities that may not fit into budget reconciliation rules. Democrats may be required to pick up GOP votes or compromise for a smaller package that has bipartisan support.
Sanders, a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist, expressed optimism about navigating the 50-50 Senate.
“Fortunately, the vice president is going to make it 51 on important issues,” Sanders said. “And I believe that in this unprecedented moment in American history, when we face so many crises, the Senate is going to have to be as bold as it possibly can in protecting working families.”
Fox News’ Jason Donner contributed to this report.