Sen. Bernie Sanders said on Wednesday he will vote against the debt-ceiling bill.
He said he cannot support legislation that harms student-loan borrowers and restricts nutritional benefits.
The House is set to vote on the legislation Wednesday evening.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has now voiced his strong opposition toward Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden's debt-ceiling deal.
On Saturday night, McCarthy and Biden announced they had finally reached an agreement on raising the debt ceiling until 2025 in legislation called the Fiscal Responsibility Act. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the legislation includes about $1.5 trillion in spending cuts through new work requirements for federal programs like SNAP. It also codifies the end of the student-loan payment pause and increases military spending.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have criticized the bill due to the compromises Biden and McCarthy ended up having to make, with both Democrats and Republicans already saying they will vote against the legislation. Sanders is the latest to come out against the bill, explaining in a lengthy statement why he cannot "in good conscience" support to the legislation.
"The best thing to be said about the current deal on the debt ceiling is that it could have been much worse," Sanders said in the statement.
"Deficit reduction cannot just be about cutting programs that working families, the children, the sick, the elderly, and the poor depend upon. It must be about demanding that the billionaire class and profitable corporations pay their fair share of taxes, reining in out-of-control military spending, reducing the price of prescription drugs, and ending billions of dollars in corporate welfare that goes to the fossil fuel industry and other corporate interests," Sanders said.
"The fact of the matter is that this bill is totally unnecessary," he continued. "The President has the authority and the ability to eliminate the debt ceiling today by invoking the 14th Amendment. I look forward to the day when he exercises this authority and puts an end, once and for all, to the outrageous actions of the extreme right-wing to hold our entire economy hostage in order to get what they want."
—Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 31, 2023
Sanders mentioned the work requirements on SNAP and the elimination of the student-loan payment pause as primary reasons why he cannot support the bill, even with the US set to default on its debt as early as June 5. The House will be voting on the legislation on Wednesday evening, and it's unclear at this point if enough lawmakers are on board to pass it through the first chamber.
Still, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are urging their colleagues to pass the bill in the Senate.
"President Biden and Speaker McCarthy's agreement will protect the economy and eliminate the threat of a catastrophic default. I support this bipartisan agreement. Nobody's getting all they want—but it takes default off the table and protects key investments we've made," Schumer wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
McConnell also wrote that McCarthy "and House Republicans secured a crucial first step toward bringing Washington Democrats' reckless spending to heel. Their unity forced President Biden to do his job. And soon, it will be the Senate's turn to pass this important agreement."
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