Sanders, I-Vt., serves as chairman of the Budget Committee, which has placed him in the prime position of negotiation between the disparate elements in the Democrat party. Notable holdouts Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., have voiced specific demands that stand at odds with major elements of the bill.
However, Sanders has pressed the need to focus on the agenda of the bill – specifically, the impact it could have on drug prices, a topic the senator has rallied against for years.
“This is not about Senator Sinema or Senator Manchin,” Sanders told “State of the Union” host Dana Bash. “It’s about 50 senators and the outrage.”
“Last year, the top CEOs made hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in outrageous levels of compensation,” Sanders said, echoing the familiar stump speech from his various campaigns. “So the issue is right now the pharmaceutical industry is doing everything it can to make sure that one out of four Americans is unable to afford the prescription.”
Sinema in particular has stood against policies that would lower drug costs. Her position has prompted harassment from progressive protesters who confronted the senator in airports and college campuses alike.
Opposition by Sinema and Manchin threatens a bill that requires every single non-Republican vote to pass the bill in the Senate and advance it to the House, but Sanders believes the party can hammer out a “framework” for the bill on which all 50 senators can agree.
“I think that 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 explained. “It will be a framework, yea, you’re going to have a piece of paper which will say, this is going to be the bill.”
“You don’t have to have all the legislative language, but you have to have a statement which is, a, b, c, d and e is going to be in the package and 50 members of the senate are going to support it.”
Sanders admitted the process is “not easy stuff,” but that pulling together “the most consequential piece of legislation in the modern history of the country” was worth the effort. The senator claimed that he has worked throughout the weekend to hammer out the details on a deal, which may result in a vote on the bill sometime this week.