Biden agenda’s vote timeline in question as Sanders weighs in

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) speaks during a rally by the People's Action, protesting pharmaceutical companies' lobbying against allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, outside Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America headquarters in Washington, D.C., Sept. 21, 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
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Ian Fisher and Tony Capaccio Bloomberg News (TNS)

Sen. Bernie Sanders said he favors crafting a deal among senators on what to include in President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion package of social benefits and taxes before putting it to a vote in the House.

With House Democratic leaders envisaging a floor votes on the bill and an infrastructure measure as soon as Tuesday, Sanders’ comments on Sunday signaled the latest effort to put pressure on Senate holdouts Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to back the policy framework that Biden presented last week.

“I think there has got to be a framework agreed upon in the Senate that all of us know is going to be implemented before the members of the House vote,” Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

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“You don’t have to have all of the legislative language, but you have to have a statement which says A, B, C, D and E is going to be in the package and 50 members of the Senate are supporting it,” he said.

Sanders, the Vermont independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said Sunday he spent “all of yesterday on the telephone” in an effort to include provisions designed to cut prescription-drug prices.

“That fight continues,” he said. “That bill is still being worked on literally today. It’ll be worked on tomorrow. I believe we’re making some progress in making it even stronger than it is.”

“I think we can put that together within the next short period of time,” Sanders said.

“We are working to add things in,” Representative Ro Khanna, a California Democrat who backs Sanders’ effort to curb prescription-drug prices, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“I think we can have the vote by Tuesday,” Khanna said.

As lawmakers put the details into legislative language, possible changes include adding a plan to cut prescription drug prices and altering the cap on deductions for state and local taxes.

The tentative schedule of House Democratic leaders includes a meeting of the House Rules Committee possible Monday, with floor votes on both the social-benefits package and a Senate-passed $550 billion infrastructure plan as soon as Tuesday.

Biden is “confident this can get through the House and the Senate,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“We’re the closest that we’ve ever been and it looks like we’re teed up for major action soon,” he said.

Buttigieg touted a range of improvements in Americans’ everyday lives that he said Biden’s agenda will provide.

Even so, an ABC/Ipsos poll published Sunday said 32% of respondents believed passage would hurt them, while almost 70% said they know little or nothing about the details in the bills.

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