Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont said Sunday that passing an infrastructure bill and satisfying lawmakers like himself who want a social-spending bill “won’t happen overnight,” echoing President Biden’s pleas for patience and urging people to see Democratic infighting as a complicated puzzle that can be solved instead of a bitter rivalry.
“All due respect, the media thinks this is the Red Sox playing the Yankees — it is not,” Mr. Sanders, an independent and leading progressive, told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “This is a long and complicated process, which is dealing with the most consequential piece of legislation probably since the New Deal in the Great Depression. It’s a big deal, and it’s not going to happen overnight.”
Mr. Sanders spoke after Mr. Biden told lawmakers he’s willing to pump the brakes and travel the country to sell his big-spending agenda to the American people.
The president is being forced to delay a vote on a roads-and-bridges bill to overcome divides between centrists, who are eager for an infrastructure win, and progressives, who are withholding support for that bill until they see a package that includes free education, health benefits and provisions to fight climate change.
The White House insists that every penny of the bill, which would cost up to $3.5 trillion, will be paid for with taxes on the wealthy and corporations, but they are fighting over ways to decrease the price tag and fit the right provisions into it without cutting too much.
“The president is absolutely right. It doesn’t matter whether it’s next week or three weeks from now, what matters is that we finally address the problems facing working families,” Mr. Sanders said. “That’s what matters.”
Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, needled Democrats from the sidelines on Sunday, likening Mr. Biden’s trip to Capitol Hill on Friday to an episode of the “Twilight Zone.” The senator said he thought Mr. Biden was dispatched to the Hill on Friday to make progress.
“Instead he surrendered to the radical wing of his party,” Mr. Barrasso told “Fox News Sunday.”
Mr. Barrasso said people like Mr. Sanders “are driving the bus and Joe Biden is just along for the ride.”
The senator said Mr. Biden and Democrats are holding improvements to roads and bridges hostage as they try to deliver on both bills, prompting Fox News host Chris Wallace to remind Mr. Barrasso he voted against the infrastructure bill.
“I had some of the concerns with some of the gimmicks that were used to fund it,” Mr. Barrasso said.
Nevertheless, he said Mr. Biden should have gotten the bill across the finish line before the disastrous exit from Afghanistan weakened him.
“In any kind of normal world, that would have been signed into law by the president,” Mr. Barrasso said.