Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) addressed 2,300 people at a town hall in West Lafayette, Indiana on August 27, 2021. , Misty Rebik/Twitter
Addressing more than 2,300 people in West Lafayette, Indiana Friday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders made the case for the $3.5 trillion spending plan to invest heavily in human infrastructure, explaining how the proposed budget currently being written by Senate and House committees following passage in the House is "the most consequential legislation for working people since the New Deal."
The event was one of two town halls
the Senate Budget Committee chairman is holding in Republican and swing districts this weekend, aimed at talking directly with working people who stand to gain from the legislation and its investments in child care subsidies, free community college tuition, paid family and medical leave, and a transformation of the U.S. energy system in a push to rapidly shift away from planet-heating fossil fuel production while creating jobs.
While the chair of the Senate Budget Committee typically works within the halls of Congress, the senator said
ahead of the event, "I think really, the function of a budget chairman is to get out among the people."
Sanders drew applause as he opened the event by describing the Civilian Climate Corps,
plans for funding "more low-income affordable housing than at any other time in this country," the inclusion of a "massive investment in home healthcare," and other provisions in the bill.
"What is fair to say about this legislation, which again, is going to be funded by demanding that the wealthy and corporations start paying their fair share of taxes," said the senator, "is that never in our lifetime has there been a piece of legislation which goes as far as this does to address the long-neglected needs of the working class and the middle class of this country."
Sanders then invited several community members to talk to the crowd about how their lives had been improved by President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan, which included investments that would be continued in the spending bill.
After receiving unemployment assistance and the child care tax credit in the relief package, single father Cody Kenney said, he was able to afford hockey equipment for his son, which he had never been able to buy during his own childhood in a trailer park.
"Having that to provide for my son and...having dignity around other parents really affected my life and my kid's life," Kenney said. "When I received the pandemic unemployment assistance I was able to provide... This was the first time I had any type of government invest in me."
Mary McCloskey, a single mother, also said the enhanced unemployment assistance that Sanders fought to include in Covid-19 relief legislation last year helped sustain her family.
"When more than 2,300 people come out in the middle of the hottest summer on record in West Lafayette, Indiana to hear Bernie Sanders talk about the $3.5 trillion Senate reconciliation bill, you're doing something right," tweeted
Misty Rebik, the senator's chief of staff.
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