Senate Odd Couple: Bernie Sanders/Jeff Sessions

Photographs by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. (left) and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

Lo and behold, President Barack Obama has struck a blow for bipartisanship — something that’s in such short supply these days.

With his nomination of Jack Lew to take the helm at the Treasury Department, Obama managed to unite Jeff Sessions of Alabama, one of the Senate’s most conservative members, and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, perhaps the chamber’s most liberal lawmaker. The president, though, won’t be lauding this alliance — they’re united AGAINST Lew.

Sessions is still miffed that Lew, as head of the administration’s Office of Management and Budget, asserted that one of the Obama budgets that was dead-on-arrival in Congress wouldn’t add to the deficit. “His testimony before the Senate Budget Committee less than two years ago was so outrageous and false that it alone disqualifies” him for the Treasury job, Sessions said in a statement.

Sanders, first elected to the Senate in 2006 running as a Socialist and then easily re-elected last November running as an independent, took umbrage to Lew’s relatively brief stint as a Citigroup executive.

“As a supporter of the president, I remain extremely concerned that virtually all of his key economic advisers have come from Wall Street,” Sanders said in a statement. “In my view, we need a Treasury secretary who is prepared to stand up to corporate America and their powerful lobbyists and fight for policies that protect the working families in our country. I do not believe Mr. Lew is that person.”

Sessions, 66, and Sanders, 71, split on one aspect of Lew’s nomination. Sanders said he anticipates Senate confirmation of Obama’s pick; Sessions  expects Lew, 57, to be blocked, an aide told The Hill newspaper.

How odd is it for the Brooklyn-bred Sanders and Sessions, born in Selma, to find themselves on the same side? Just check out their respective ratings from various special interest groups.

The liberal Americans for Democratic Action gave Sanders a 95 percent favorable score for his 2010 votes. Sessions got 5 percent. Conversely, the southerner received a 100 percent score from the American Conservative Union, the northerner 4 percent.



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