Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday said it’s urgent that Democrats work toward an infrastructure package with a larger price tag that addresses climate change and other related issues.
“I sometimes think we get boggled down in numbers and that’s important, but we’ve got to look at what the needs are of the American people, what’s going on right now,” Sanders, a Vermont independent senator who caucuses with the Democrats and chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”
The comments from Sanders come as Democrats eye a bipartisan track and budget reconciliation track in negotiations over President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure proposal.
Asked if he had Biden’s blessing to push a separate $6 trillion reconciliation plan, Sanders said the President provided a “serious and comprehensive blueprint.”
Some moderate Democrats, including Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, are squeamish about the large price tag of Sanders’ plan and some have indicated they would not support it.
CNN previously reported that aides familiar with the plans say that even if Democrats and Republicans are able to come together on a modest, bipartisan infrastructure package, there still would likely need to be a path for reconciliation in order for Democrats to pass more sweeping reforms and tax changes that are a centerpiece of Biden’s legislative agenda.
Asked if he was willing to scale back the price tag, Sanders told Bash he would meet with Democratic members to discuss their concerns.
“Are there differences about this proposal, that proposal, the amount of money? Yeah, there are. And that’s something we’re going to have to work together to hammer out. I intend to do that,” he said.
A bipartisan group of 58 moderate House members proposed a $1.25 trillion infrastructure package earlier this month. The bill proposes $761.8 billion in new infrastructure spending over eight years, but Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate are negotiating over how to pay for the new spending.
Democrat Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, co-chairs of the Problem Solvers Caucus, in a joint interview on Sunday expressed optimism for the bipartisan infrastructure proposal while also acknowledging some members of Congress won’t support the package.
“This is about physical infrastructure and something that’s urgent that needs to get done and we’ve got bipartisan support for it. … I believe we can get this done,” Gottheimer told Bash. “You’re always going to have some that disagree, but this is what this is about, just continuing to work at it.”
Fitzpatrick told Bash the negotiators should consider all possibilities to pay for the bill, including an increase to the gas tax – something the White House has refused to support.
“Should everything be on the table? Of course it should be, because that’s part of compromise,” Fitzpatrick said. “Nobody will be totally in love with the plan but everybody will be okay with it.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina separately on Sunday implored Biden to take leadership on the infrastructure package.
“I think the difference between this negotiation and the earlier negotiation is we’re willing to add more money to infrastructure in this package, and I am hopeful that if the White House and Joe Biden stay involved we can get there,” Graham told “Fox News Sunday.” “I would just say this. President Biden if you want an infrastructure bill of a trillion dollars, it is there for the taking. You just need to get involved and lead.”
This story has been updated with additional details.
CNN’s Aaron Pellish and Nicky Robertson contributed to this report.