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Delegation Supports Bipartisan Senate Solution

Sen. Patrick Leahy says the current fight over the budget shutdown and debt ceiling is probably the most frustrating time in his 39 years in the U.S. Senate.

Leahy says a plan being developed by Majority leader Harry Reid and Minority leader Mitch McConnell is a reasonable solution to the current stalemate. The plan would reopen the government until Jan. 15, and extend the debt ceiling until Feb. 7. During this time period, budget negotiations would continue to take place.

“I think it’s probably the only approach because if we go another day or so this is going to cost American taxpayers billions of dollars in higher interest costs in jobs lost,” said Leahy. “It will probably put us back into another recession.”

And Leahy says he’s growing increasingly frustrated by the actions of some members of the House Republican caucus.

“It’s so foolish. And these people who have no better idea, all they want to do is go on television and say how much they are opposed to Barack Obama,” said Leahy. “Well, he was elected president and re-elected you know, get over it.”

But over in the Republican House these guys cannot agree on anything so it is a bit of a frightening situation - Senator Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders also thinks the Reid-McConnell plan makes sense at this time.

“They both think the talks have been positive,” said Sanders. “The bad news is that the Republicans in the House continue to be blackmailed by their extreme right wing who continue to throw in all kinds of crazy ideas.”

Sanders said he doesn’t like the short term deadlines in the compromise but he’s willing to accept them.

“I am willing to back off of that and say, 'alright we have to avert the crisis right now in front of us,'” said Sanders. “But over in the Republican House these guys cannot agree on anything so it is a bit of a frightening situation.”

Over in the House, Rep. Peter Welch is hoping to have a chance to vote on the bipartisan Senate plan for two reasons.

“One, you don’t shut government down to get your way on an ideological position,” said Welch. “And number two, the country pays its bills and we don’t justify as a tactic threatening to destroy our credit rating to get what you want.”

And Welch thinks the short term solution has a benefit.

“What I do think will happen with getting this time is that we’ve broken the back of folks who are willing to use extreme tactics to shutdown and debt default as a way to get their point of view,” said Welch.

Welch said he’s convinced that a failure to reach agreement on a plan to extend the nation’s debt ceiling will have a very negative impact on the U.S. economy.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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