“Pelosi and Schumer have really tough jobs – they really do – and it’s easy to belittle them, to criticize them, but they don’t have any margin to deal with,” Mr Sanders said in an interview. “It’s not a job I’m jealous of, a job I could do for three minutes.”
Mr. Sanders has decided that the best way to defend his view is to reach out to Republican voters, including face-to-face interviews in Republican and Iowa Republican neighborhoods. After enjoying his past interactions with voters on the campaign trail, he was back in his element, far from the sedate corridors of Capitol Hill.
“This is way beyond what normal budget committees do, but on the other hand, I feel very lucky to be in this position right now,” said Mr. Sanders, sipping iced tea on the patio of Midtown Station, a restaurant in near the fire station, after his question-and-answer session. “In fact, if I wasn’t so preoccupied with the reconciliation package and with members of Congress, etc., etc., I would probably take the Committee on Budgets across this country.”
“That’s what we should be doing,” he added. “We need to explain to the American people what we’re doing for them here, and it can’t just be an inside-the-Beltway process.”
But whether in Washington or Iowa, Mr. Sanders has little patience to discuss the procedural details of the reconciliation package, focusing instead on the policy ideas he notes in italics. In his opening address at a nearby park before a crowd of hundreds spread out in lawn chairs and picnic blankets, Mr. Sanders warned that Senate rules “can put you to sleep in about three seconds.”
“It’s complicated, it’s boring, etc.” he told them.
Still, those mind-numbing details will be crucial. The need for Democrats to be nearly unanimous in their support will drive the process and determine which policies can be included and which should be discarded. And the Senate MP, as the arbiter of the House’s rules, may advise scrapping certain provisions because they don’t directly affect taxes and spending, a requirement for items included in conciliation laws.
Mr. Sanders glossed over those details, assuring the crowd — largely a gathering of his acolytes from across the state — that his vision would become law despite opposition from the likes of Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema.