Vermont Senators vote for failed stimulus package

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(Host) Senate Democrats failed to push through their proposal to revive the sluggish U.S. economy last night.

Vermont Senators say those who voted against the bill will have to face their constituents. VPR’s Jodi Breisler reports.

(Breisler) Republicans who voted against the Senate Democrats’ stimulus package complain that it’s too expensive. It would give individual consumers — from the wealthy to the needy — up to $500 in tax rebates. Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders voted in favor.

(Sanders) "It includes senior citizens — 21 million senior citizens who are on social security. It includes disabled veterans, and I think it would absolutely wrong to exclude those groups from the rebate package."

(Briesler) The bill would also add money to a program called LIHEAP, which helps low-income families to pay for home-heating oil. Sanders says many Vermont households would benefit.

The state’s Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy also voted yes.

(Leahy) "I think this is a good bill. I think the people who voted against disabled veterans, voted against LIHEAP, voted against children in this bill. I think if they go home and hear from their constituents, they may come back and change their votes."

(Breisler) Republican leaders say they will offer their own proposal which would help seniors and disabled veterans but not the wealthy and the LIHEAP program. It’s unclear whether Democratic leaders will allow the Republican plan to come up for a vote.

For VPR News, I’m Jodi Breisler on Capitol Hill.

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