By Robert Donachie
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Senate colleagues to avoid shutting down the government, warning that doing so is irresponsible and puts American interests at risk.
“I come before my colleagues here in the Senate to urge, in the strongest possible terms, that the Republican leadership here accept its responsibility and not allow the government of the United States to shut down,” Sanders said on the Senate floor Friday afternoon. “Please do not shut the government down. A government shut down will be extremely distressing and difficult for millions of people in every state in our country who utilize government services.”
“The American people do not want a government shut down, I do not want a government shut down and I believe that most of my Republican colleagues do not want a government shutdown,” Sanders said.
House Republicans managed to get a bill through the chamber Thursday evening that would keep the government funded through mid-February. The bill also reauthorizes a highly popular program that provides comprehensive health insurance for more than 8.9 million American children. Democrats have asked for the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) since the program’s budget expired in November.
Senate Democrats are, as of Friday afternoon, leaning toward shooting down the bill for not including legal protections for recipients of former President Barack Obama-era’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Sanders comments Friday are in-line with what he said prior to the 2013 government shutdown. The Vermont senator said that Republicans could not force the American people to suffer for their legislative demands.
“Our Republican friends in the House are trying to annul the election that took place last November. Some of them were shocked that Obama won and that he won by 5 million votes,” Sanders said in 2013.
“Ultimately, what we are dealing with tonight is an extraordinary anti-democratic act,” he said. “Every member of the Senate has strong feelings, sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, but when you are in the minority—they do not control the White House, they do not control the United States Senate—they cannot force the American people to give them what they want.”
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