Sanders Says A Federal Shutdown Would Hurt Vermonters

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(Host) The budget showdown is the big story in Washington right now.

If Democrats and Republicans can’t reach an agreement on a budget plan by Friday, the federal government will shut down for the first time in 15 years.

Speaking on VPR’s Vermont Edition Wednesday, Senator Bernie Sanders explained just what that would mean for the country, and for Vermonters.

VPR’s Samantha Fields has more.

(Fields) Senator Sanders says that no one knows at this point exactly what a partial shutdown of the federal government would look like. But he did give some examples:

(Sanders) "It would mean that homeowners could be prevented from getting a home loan every week. It means that small business loans, which are very important for many small businesses in Vermont and around this country would be delayed. Obviously people would not be able to go to our national parks. It means that passport applications would probably go unprocessed."

(Fields) There is also the possibility that paychecks to military personnel could be delayed, like they were in 1995.

Sanders says the government will do everything it can to prevent that from happening this time around. But he says veterans and those on Social Security could face delays in getting their benefits.

(Sanders) "The details have not been worked out, but clearly it would be causing serious problems for many, many people throughout our country."

(Fields) Republicans have insisted on deep cuts in funding for what remains of the federal budget year between now and September 30th.

Democrats and the White House have gone along with about half of the cuts but don’t want to go farther right now.

Sanders says the standoff shows the depth of the divisions in Washington.

(Sanders) "What we are seeing right now is a great philosophical debate. And that is whether we address the serious problem of a large deficit simply by cutting programs that the elderly, the sick, the poor, the children need, or whether we say to those people who are doing phenomenally well, you know what, this is America, you’re Americans, and you’re going to have to participate in that process as well."

(Fields) Sanders says regardless of the current debate over the shutdown, Congress will face all the same issues when it deals with the 2012 budget this fall.

For VPR News, I’m Samantha Fields

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