Senator Bernie Sanders gave his first major address since the election on Tuesday. Since challenging Clinton in the Democratic primary, he has emerged as one of the most powerful Democrats in Washington. On Wednesday, he was named to a leadership post in the Senate — chair of outreach — and was reappointed ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee. During his speech, Sanders said he hopes to work with the president-elect on a number of issues, and called on Trump to rescind his decision to make Steve Bannon his chief strategist. Bannon is the former head of Breitbart News.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Across town at George Washington University, Senator Bernie Sanders also gave his first major address since the election. Sanders, who challenged Clinton in the Democratic primary, has emerged as one of the most powerful Democrats in Washington. On Wednesday, he was named to a leadership post in the Senate — chair of outreach, a new position — and was reappointed ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee. During his speech, Senator Sanders called on Trump to rescind his decision to make Steve Bannon his chief strategist. Bannon is the former head of Breitbart News.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: This country, as you all know, since our inception, has struggled to overcome discrimination of all forms. And that is racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia. For hundreds of years, extraordinarily brave people have stood up, and some of them have died in the struggle, to end discrimination in America. And I say to Mr. Trump, from the bottom of my heart, and I know I speak for millions of fellow Americans: Mr. Trump, we are not going backwards in terms of bigotry; we’re going to go forward in creating a nondiscriminatory society. And in that regard, I call upon Mr. Trump to rescind the appointment that he made of Mr. Bannon. A president of the United States should not have a racist at his side. Unacceptable.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Senator Bernie Sanders speaking Wednesday. But his speech was not solely an attack on Donald Trump. The Vermont senator said he hopes to work with the president-elect on a number of issues.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Mr. Trump said, unlike many Republicans, the vast majority of the Republicans, he said we — he will not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Now, I believe we should expand Social Security. I believe in a Medicare-for-all program. But that is what he said. And pay attention to see what he now does. The question that will be resolved, pretty quickly, is whether or not everything that he was saying to the working families of this country was hypocrisy, was dishonest, or whether he was sincere. And we will find that out soon enough. But, number one, no cuts, says Mr. Trump, to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Mr. Trump says he wants to invest a trillion dollars in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. That is a good sum of money. That is exactly what we should be doing. And we could create millions of good-paying jobs if we do that. Mr. Trump, that’s what you said on the campaign trail. That’s what we look forward to seeing from you.
Now, I happen to believe that the federal minimum wage of seven and a quarter today is a starvation wage, that it should be raised to $15 an hour, a living wage. Mr. Trump did not say that, but what he did say is we should raise the minimum wage to 10 bucks an hour. Not enough, but a start. And we will hold him to those words.
Mr. Trump said that Wall Street, dangerous, doing bad things. He wants to re-establish Glass-Steagall legislation. I look forward to working with him.
Mr. Trump said he wants six weeks of paid maternity leave. Well, every other major country on Earth has, I think, at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, but this is a start. This is a start. We look forward to working with him, if he is honest about that.
Mr. Trump said throughout his campaign, a cornerstone of his campaign, he wants to change our disastrous trade policies. As somebody who voted against every one of these trade policies, I look forward to working with him to make that happen.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s independent Senator Bernie Sanders speaking Wednesday night in Washington. Though he’s being referred to as one of the most powerful Democrats in Washington, he caucuses with the Democrats. When we come back from break, we’ll look at how Sanders and the Democratic Party plan to deal with a Trump presidency. Stay with us.