Ultimately, the president-elect said, both agreed Sanders was needed more in the Senate.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS coulda’ been a contender for labor secretary, a pick progressives had hoped President-Elect Joe Biden would make.
But the democratic socialist from Vermont is far more valuable in the Senate, where he can ensure a Democratic majority after Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are sworn in after their victories in runoff elections in Georgia this week, Biden said Friday.
“I did give serious consideration to my friend Bernie Sanders for this position,” Biden said at an event announcing more economic appointments, including Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as commerce secretary and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as labor secretary.
“But after Tuesday’s results in Georgia … Bernie and I agreed – in fact, Bernie said we can’t put control of the Senate at risk with a special election in Vermont,” Biden explained.
Sanders is in line to be chairman of the Budget Committee, a powerful position, after Democrats take control of the chamber. The Senate will be divided 50-50, but incoming Vice President Kamala Harris provides a tie-breaking vote.
Vermont is heavily Demcoratic – Biden took 66% of the vote in the Green Mountain State in November. But it has a GOP governor, Phil Scott, indicating that a Republcian indeed can win statewide.
Further, after the upset election of Republican Sen. Scott Brown in the overwhelmingly Demcoratic state of Massachauetts in 2010, Democrats may be hesitant to take anything for granted.
Having the majority doesn’t mean Democrats will get their way all the time. On Friday, for example, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia became the first Democrat to say he would not vote for $2,000 stimulus checks to help Americans hit hard by the pandemic.
But being in the majority means having committee chairmanships and controlling the schedule, which can kill legislation and nominations or give them an opportunity for easy passage. For example, Merrick Garland – now Biden’s pick to be attorney general – was nominated by former President Barack Obama for the Supreme Court but never got a vote or even a hearing because Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mcconnnell, Kentucky Republican, would not allow it.
Sanders’ continued place in the Senate means Biden is likely to win approval of his Cabinet picks – including Walsh and Garland.