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'Bernie Sanders has real influence': Vermont's longtime outsider has become a trusted voice in the Biden White House

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At first glance, they seem like an odd couple -- Sen. Bernie Sanders, the progressive and quintessential outsider, and President Joe Biden, moderate politician and political insider.



"As somebody who wrote a book called 'Outsider in the House,' yes, it is a strange experience to be having that kind of influence that we have now," Sanders told CNN's Gloria Borger as they sat together in Burlington, Vermont, recently.



"I can tell you that Bernie Sanders has real influence" in the White House, senior Biden adviser Cedric Richmond told Borger. "Sen. Sanders is respected."


"He's more conservative than I am, obviously," Sanders says. "But on the other hand, he's not only a smart guy, he is a good politician who has a sense of where people are at and what is possible. And I think he understands that at this particular moment in American history where working families face so many problems, you've got to go big, not small."



And now, as Biden wrangles with Republicans over the price tag of an infrastructure bill, Sanders, now the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, is waiting -- and ready -- to use the budget reconciliation process to push spending through with 50 Democratic votes, if he can get them.

"I have very limited patience," he says. "We learned a lesson from the Obama years. And that is, Republicans will talk and talk, 'We want to work with you. Bipartisan.' Month after month after month, nothing happens."

Sanders has already gone to bat for Biden. First up was the American Rescue Plan, which included direct payments to millions of Americans. When some House progressives considered withholding their votes after a minimum wage increase was taken out, Sanders convinced them to stay on board.



This part stuck out because I didn't know about it, and I feel I read a lot of the behind-the-scenes political porn:



When Biden decided not to run for president in the 2016 race, and the Democratic Party establishment lined up behind Clinton, Biden invited Sanders, Clinton's rival, to meet with him at the vice president's residence.

"He was giving me his advice, political advice," Sanders says of those meetings. "They were, I think for me, very useful conversations and friendly conversations."


Sanders adviser Shakir puts it more bluntly.

"I certainly believe that Sen. Sanders left that meeting feeling that Joe Biden was giving him a, 'Hey, go make your case, Bernie, because there's a lot of people who need to hear it,' " he said.


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1 minute ago, SuperSpreader said:

The outsider who's been in Washington for ages 


Sounds like a good negative ad to put on a bumper sticker, but it doesn't matter.


You could be at a job for decades and not be in the boy's club there.

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