Sen. Bernie Sanders in Cedar Rapids to pitch $3.5 trillion budget to Iowans

On Sunday afternoon, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, held an event in Cedar Rapids where he said Iowans’ education, healthcare, infrastructure and more will benefit through the $3.5 trillion budget.


Jenna Galligan

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a town hall at Newbo City Market Bankers Trust Stage in Cedar Rapids, IA on Sunday, August 29, 2021. Sanders addressed childcare, climate change, coronavirus, and the $3.5 trillion Democratic budget plan, among other talking points.

Lauren White, Politics Reporter

Only five days after the U.S. House approved a $3.5 trillion budget plan, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., traveled to Cedar Rapids to sell Iowans on the bill and garner support for his legislative priorities.

Sunday’s event was the second and final stop in his weekend tour to two Republican-led states. On Friday, the Independent held a similar event in Indiana.

Sanders equated this event to a “very unusual budget hearing,” as he explained the aspects of the legislation. The budget priorities will benefit Iowans’ healthcare, infrastructure, child care services, education, climate, and businesses, he said.

Former President Donald Trump carried Iowa in 2016 and 2020 and with the 2022 midterm elections lurking a little over a year away, Sanders said the Democratic party needs to appeal to rural Americans and Iowans in red states by delivering legislation that matters to them.

“This is the most consequential piece of legislation for working families in the modern history of this country and I am just disturbed that a lot of people don’t know what’s in it,” Sanders said.

Sanders said that an aspect of the budget will allocate money to families and communities who are displaced by natural disasters caused by climate change.

The House approved the budget plan along party lines with a vote of 220-212 on Aug. 25. This plan allows Democrats to fast-track legislation through reconciliation.

With the implementation of this bill, Sanders said that the U.S. is on its way toward a major and massive economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with The Daily Iowan before the event, Sanders said that young people in Iowa can benefit from the package specifically through the Civilian Climate Bill where students can get student loans paid off or schooling paid for by aiding the US government in climate change solutions.

“I think young people are extremely concerned about climate change, we are going to give them the opportunities to earn good wages and get educational benefits by helping us address the climate crisis,” Sanders said.

The infrastructure bill includes two years of free community college along with increased Pell Grants. Those credits will be transferable to public four-year universities.

Natalie Tapscott, a University of Iowa sophomore studying political science, environmental science, and economics, said that young people are going to be extremely important in the 2022 midterm elections in energizing the races and amplifying local issues.

“Studying [environmental science] really helps me understand and break down portions of legislation that are important to me,” Taspcott said.

Personally, Tapscott said that issues such as water quality are important rural concerns in Iowa that young people can bring attention to.

Tapscott said that there are too many issues in the U.S. that need fixing that this bill alone cannot handle, but this is a good start, she said. While there may be environmental aspects of the bill she feels may not have gotten the attention or funding they deserved, this is a step in the right direction.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, took to Twitter to voice his complaints about the budget proposal where he said that he proposed an amendment where Congress can’t change state and local tax deductions to avoid benefiting millionaires.

Sanders said it is the job of the people of Iowa to inform their congressional delegation on what they think is right.

“These are tough times. But I’m here today, in Iowa, to tell you that I am absolutely convinced that if we as Americans have the courage and determination to stand up in the fight for Justice … we can not only address the awful problems but we can move our country forward,” Sanders said.

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