Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) played "a kind of gadfly role" in the upper chamber for many years, David Axelrod, who served as an adviser to former President Barack Obama, told Politico. But now, the de facto leader of progressive Democrats is at the center of congressional deal-making, including Democrats' recent agreement on a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint.
Sanders had been pushing his fellow Democrats to embrace an even larger $6 trillion proposal, but now, it seems, that was a tactic to push everyone else a little higher. "We wouldn't be there without him putting out $6 trillion," Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told Politico.
"You're seeing a very pragmatic Bernie Sanders, but he's pragmatic in a principled way," Axelrod said, adding that Sanders and President Biden "have come together in the sunset of their careers to do something potentially historic" despite coming "from different places in the party."
Sanders didn't sound so sure "pragmatic" is the right word, though the fact that he told Politico that he's going about his business the way he is because "there are 50 members of the Democratic Caucus" in the Senate "and unfortunately not all of them agree with me on everything" did little to dispel that notion. Read more at Politico.