Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said Sunday that Democrats should not stop pushing legislation to codify abortion rights into law after Democrats failed to pass a bill this week.
Speaking with Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said “nobody should think” Senate Democrats’ push to codify Roe v. Wade is “dead,” and that Democrats “should bring those bills up again, and again, and again,” and abolish the filibuster to pass abortion laws.
Sanders also accused moderate Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona of sabotaging the party’s political agenda.
Todd began the interview by pointing to a NBC News poll, released Sunday, showing that fully three-quarters of Americans, 75%, believe that the country is on the wrong track.
“Do you think we’re headed in the wrong direction?” Todd asked.
“I sure do,” Sanders responded, claiming that while the “billionaire class” and the rich are doing well financially, the middle class is declining, and ownership of property is increasingly becoming concentrated.
Sanders also claimed that millions of Americans are not able to afford the cost of health care, prescription drugs, or gasoline for their cars. “So, how could anyone think that what’s going on right now is good?” Sanders asked.
Todd pointed out that while many people see the need to implement large structural change, the Democrats do not have the ability to do so because of the makeup of the Senate. “What can get done now?” Todd asked Sanders.
Sanders responded by touting the American Rescue Plan, which he believed helped many people deal with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that Democrats need to move to lower prescription drug costs, expand Medicare, and healthcare overall, raise the minimum wage to a “living wage,” pass climate spending, and pass an abortion law.
Todd then asked why Democrats had achieved none of it, calling it a “head scratcher.”
“[It] should not be a head-scratcher,” Sanders replied. “You’ve got two members of the senate, Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema, who have sabotaged what the president has been fighting for.”
You’ve got 48 members of the Senate who wanted to go forward with an agenda that helped working families, that was prepared to take on the wealthy and the powerful,” Sanders added. “You had a president who wanted to do that. You had two people who prevented us from doing it. You have a better word than sabotage? That’s fine. But I think that is the right word.”
Todd then asked whether Democrats should have put up a bill in the Senate that could have garnered support from pro-abortion rights Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.
“No,” Sanders replied bluntly. “But to answer your question, I think nobody should think that this process is dead. We should bring those bills up again, and again, and again… I think what we should do is, on this bill, end the filibuster, do everything that we can to get 50 votes on the strongest possible bill to protect a woman’s right to control her own body.”
Todd and Sanders also discussed the senator’s support for pro-abortion rights Democrats in several primary races. “Do you think at this point, being pro-life, you can’t be in the Democratic Party or in the Democratic coalition?” Todd asked.
“We will see,” Sanders replied. “All that I can say is I think you have the overwhelming majority of people who consider themselves to be Democrats to be pro-choice. I have been pro-choice my entire life. And the candidates that I am supporting now are all pro-choice. Look, a woman’s right to control her own body is really on the line, and we’ve got to do everything we can to defend that right.”