The Republican nightmare that Bernie Sanders would become chairman of the powerful Senate Budget Committee is about to become reality. The Senate Budget Committee is responsible for drafting Congress’ annual budget plan and monitoring action on the budget. It is responsible for spending, revenue, and debt legislation.
Voicing GOP fears, Nikki Haley tweeted: “Time to face the harsh reality, socialist Bernie Sanders will become the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. He has vowed to use his position to enact his progressive agenda on healthcare, climate, infrastructure spending, and cutting defense spending.”
While the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations intended her tweet as an ominous warning, Sanders’ wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, tweeted back simply: “Yes he has.” This indicates Sanders will not back down. And the organizing group People for Bernie also tweeted a response to Haley: “You forgot to mention raising the minimum wage and taxing your rich friends.”
Sanders has sent a clear signal that he will use his power to enact progressive policies that were at the heart of his presidential campaigns. As chair of the Budget Committee, Sanders will be able to promote legislation using the budget reconciliation process, with just a simple majority.
Warren Gunnels, one of Sanders’ most senior aides, made Sanders’ intentions clear when he tweeted: “We must use budget reconciliation to increase the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour with a simple majority vote in the Senate, just like Republicans did to pass massive tax breaks to the 1%.”
Elections have consequences, and giving Sanders a powerful chairmanship may be one of the most significant consequences of Democrats taking charge of the federal government this year.