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The $3.5 trillion spending package which Senate Democrats agreed to this week will be a highly transformative piece of legislation for the nation, according to its chief architect, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders.
In particular, it will have a dramatic impact in the fight against global climate change, the Vermont independent said.
Democrats agreed to the $3.5 trillion package as a vehicle to fund priorities which aren’t going to be addressed by the scaled-back, bipartisan infrastructure deal President Biden set with Senate Republicans.
Sanders, a high-profile progressive who caucuses with the Democrats, has been working for the last couple of weeks to put together this additional spending plan, which will be approved under a process known as “reconciliation,” which is immune from Republican filibustering.
“So we are pouring a huge amount of money into moving our economy, our transportation system, agriculture, away from fossil fuels, into energy efficiency and sustainable energy. There’s a whole lot of programs that we have,” Sanders said.
The package will be “the largest investment in addressing climate that this country has ever, ever seen,” the two-time presidential hopeful said.
“And among many other programs, and I’m excited about this, we’re gonna put tens of billions of dollars into a Civilian Climate Corps. And essentially way that means is we’re gonna have hundreds of thousands of young people get actively involved in the fight to transform our energy system,” Sanders said. “And they will be paid well, and if I have anything to say about it, there will be educational stipends. Also, there’s a benefit which will enable them either to, you know, be able to afford college or pay off a student debt. So I’m very excited about the concept of the Civilian Climate Corps, which is based on the Rooseveltian CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s.
“So, bottom line here is we are looking at the most consequential piece of legislation to impact the lives of working people that we have seen, I believe, since FDR in the 1930s,” he added. “And it will, among many other things, create millions and millions of good-paying and meaningful jobs which take on climate change and improve lives for working families.”
Despite the overall agreement, Sanders called the package “a work in progress.”
“A lot of committees working on it, a whole lot of folks are working on it. But I do applaud the president and my colleagues here who are finally taking a hard look at the crises facing the American people, the working people of this country, and beginning to address it,” he said. “Now, I know some people will say, ‘Well, it doesn’t go far enough.’ Well, between you and me, I agree with you. But anyone who denies that this is a major, major, major step forward, I think is missing the boat.”
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