Sanders discusses possible labor secretary job under Biden

Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 6:32 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2020 at 7:28 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Will Bernie Sanders get a job in the Biden administration? Here’s what he told our Darren Perron about being considered for U.S. labor secretary.

“What I see my job is is to work for working families throughout Vermont and this country,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.

He’s still Sen. Bernie Sanders and still has the same talking points. But there’s a chance his title might change. Sanders is on the shortlist as President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to be the next U.S. labor secretary.

Reporter Darren Perron: For the record, would you take that job?

Sen. Bernie Sanders: If I could fight to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, fight for equal pay for equal work for women, make sure people who were promised pensions get those pensions, is that something I would accept if I could do that? Yes, I surely would.

Darren Perron: Have you had a conversation with Joe Biden about becoming labor secretary?

Sen. Bernie Sanders: I’ve had a conversation with Joe Biden, yeah.

Darren Perron: About that?

Sen. Bernie Sanders: I don’t want to go into private conversations.

If Sanders becomes the U.S. labor secretary, Republican Gov. Phil Scott vowed to appoint an independent to fill the seat until a special election is held.

“I was appreciative that he did say that he would appoint someone who would caucus with the Democrats and that’s very important,” Sanders said.

The makeup of the U.S. Senate plays a role, too. Senators must confirm Biden’s pick. And depending on the outcome of special elections in Georgia, Republicans could maintain control of the Senate.

Darren Perron: Do you think the Senate would confirm you as labor secretary?

Sen. Bernie Sanders: I don’t want to speculate. We have a long way. I have to be nominated before I can be supported by the Senate.

If he stays in his position and someone else gets the labor gig, his immediate to-do list is short, but he says, most important.

Darren Perron: Vermont has been good to you: mayor, congressman, senator. If you remain in the Senate, what will your priorities be specific to Vermont and Vermonters?

Sen. Bernie Sanders: Well, for a start, the immediate crisis we face is the pandemic. That means a lot of people in our own state are hurting. People have lost their jobs. They’ve lost incomes, health care. We have got to pass immediately, immediately a very significant COVID emergency relief package to protect working families and small businesses. God knows how many businesses in this state, great small businesses, are not going to reopen. We have to do everything we can to help them and the workers. Second of all, let us all hope and pray whichever it may be, Pfizer or Moderna, is out as quickly as possible. It’s not going to be as easy as people think to make sure 300 million-plus people are able to get the vaccination. So we have got to work very hard on that. We’ve got to help the states and cities to administer that program. Then on top of all that, we are going to have to rebuild our economy all over the country and Vermont. Our family farmers are in very, very bad shape. Agriculture in the state is hurting. I’m going to pay a lot of attention to that as well.

Sanders is confident President-elect Biden will adopt more progressive policies, policies Sanders has pushed for decades.

Sanders and Biden have disagreed on some key issues, like health care. Sanders wants Medicare for All. Biden wants to expand Obamacare.

But Sanders says the two have come to some compromises. The work began after Sanders dropped out of the primary.

“Those proposals, if adopted, would make Biden the most progressive president of the United States since FDR,” Sanders said.

Hear more of Darren’s conversation with the senator Tuesday on the Channel 3 News at 6 p.m, including the president’s refusal to concede, more about vaccines and progressive politics.

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