The PJ Tatler

Bernie Sanders to Lead Dem Caucus on Incoming Budget Committee

The Senate’s self-proclaimed socialist will be moving from his Veterans Affairs Committee chairmanship to the top Democratic spot on the powerful Senate Budget Committee in the 114th Congress.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has been flirting with a potential 2016 presidential run on a platform of economic fairness, announced today that he’ll be the ranking member on the panel, which is currently helmed by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

“I want to thank Sen. Reid and the Democratic caucus for the opportunity to serve as the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee. At a time when the middle class is disappearing and the gap between the rich and everybody else is growing wider, we need a budget which reflects the needs of working families and not Wall Street and the top 1 percent,” Sanders said in a statement.

“I look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans on the committee to craft a budget that is fair to all Americans, not just the powerful special interests.”

Sanders was one of 14 votes Thursday against advancing a defense spending bill and planned to vote “no” on the “cromnibus” spending bill.

“Instead of cutting back on the ability of billionaires to buy elections, this bill outrageously gives the wealthy even more power over the political process,” Sanders said. “Instead of giving the Environmental Protection Agency the tools it needs to begin dealing with the planetary crisis of global warming, this bill would cut spending by the EPA.”

The current ranking member on the Budget Committee is conservative Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who is battling for the chairmanship versus Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.). The committee’s Republicans will pick the chairman by secret ballot after new members are seated next month.

Murray will become ranking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where current ranking member Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) doesn’t face opposition for the chairmanship.

The HELP Committee’s current chairman is retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

“I look forward to continuing my work on a Committee that does so much to impact policies that define who we are as a nation, what we value, and what we are doing to help all workers, families, and children succeed,” Murray said today. “Making progress on these priorities will take continued bipartisanship, but I believe the work we did to pass a bipartisan budget deal last year showed that Democrats and Republicans can come together on challenging issues and deliver results.”

“Our budget deal moved our country away from years of manufactured crises and helped to restore critical investments in education, research, infrastructure, and jobs,” she added in reference to the deal forged with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). That committee will be led by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) in the next Congress.

Another liberal senator will take the top Democratic spot on an economic committee. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) announced today he’ll be the ranking member on the Senate Banking Committee.

“This committee is about ensuring a fair set of rules for all financial institutions while protecting taxpayers and consumers,” Brown said. “…We must ensure transparency and accountability for Wall Street and access to credit on fair terms for Main Street.”