Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) raised the heat on Republicans’ scramble this week to keep the government funded.
The two Senators called on their colleagues to increase spending on the neglected, patchwork federal safety net, and threatened to withhold support for a push to avert a government shutdown.
The US government runs out of money on Friday. Congressional Republicans are hoping to pass a two-week extension of funding, while simultaneously attempting to finalize watershed legislation that would slash corporate tax rates.
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“The Republicans who run Congress, they don’t care much about middle class families,” Warren said. “But if they expect Democratic support from their funding bill, then they need to do more to respect working people in this country,” she added.
Sanders called on “millions of people to begin to stand up and demand that the United States Congress represents all of us, and not just a handful of campaign contributors.”
To avert a possible filibuster in the Senate, Republicans need the support of eight Democrats for their short-term funding legislation.
Sanders and Warren made their appeal directly to the public on Wednesday morning, through a video broadcast on Facebook.
President Trump also talked about the possibility of a government shutdown during a Wednesday morning cabinet meeting.
“It could happen,” he said, casting blame across the aisle. “The Democrats are really looking at something that is very dangerous to our country. They are looking at shutting down.”
Republicans repeatedly threatened to shutdown the government during the Obama administration, bringing wider policy debates into short-term spending measures.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) managed to engineer a two-week shutdown in October 2013, riding a wave of Republican discontent over Obamacare’s impending implementation.
Congress “shutting down the government” means the temporary furloughing of “non-essential” federal employees.
Sanders and Warren raised the prospect of rallying enough dissatisfied Senate Democrats after last week’s passage of tax reform — a process marred by a lack of public hearings and a questionable legislative process. Republican leaders circulated a partially-handwritten bill just hours before a final vote.
The pair pointed out that Republicans have been poor stewards of community health grants and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Both initiatives, which are routinely re-approved by Congress, ran out of money at the end of September.
Warren and Sanders also called on the Senate to take up legislation that would give status to Dreamers — the 800,000 undocumented immigrants, brought to this country as children, who received conditional protections under the Obama administration.
They also called on Congress to allocate more money to child care, mental healthcare, student loan forgiveness, veterans affairs, and broadband infrastructure, among other programs.
The senators said last week’s trillion dollar tax cut should take concerns about the cost of modest funding proposals off the table.
Chuch Schumer (D-NY), the Senate Minority Leader, is scheduled to negotiate a government funding bill on Thursday with President Trump and his House counterpart, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
A previous meeting between the trio last week was canceled by the Democrats after a tweet from President Trump soured relations.
“Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes,” Trump had tweeted. “I don’t see a deal!”