If Senate Democrats or President Barack Obama cave to House Republican demands on the Affordable Care Act, the Senate’s only independent said that would embolden them to attempt similar tactics on other issues.
“If we surrender right now to these guys on this issue, they will be back,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who generally votes with Senate Democrats.
Sanders said Wednesday that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was being overruled by a minority group of extremists within his own party who wish to undo the past century’s progressive agenda.
He said House Republicans were using blackmail tactics and holding the American people hostage by tying federal government funding to the president's health care reform law.
“This attack on Obamacare is just one small part of a right-wing extremist ideology which is incredibly reactionary and which really intends not just to repeal Obamacare but to repeal virtually every major piece of legislation passed in the last 80 years which protects the interests of … people who are vulnerable,” Sanders said.
Sanders pointed out that the influential Texas Republican Party had listed on its platform its intention to privatize Social Security and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and he said most Republicans wanted to abolish the federal minimum wage and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“These guys want to make drastic cuts to Medicaid, in food stamps and many other programs which the most vulnerable people in this country are living on,” Sanders said.
Sanders challenged Boehner to stand up the extremist minority within his own party, saying he had the power to end the government shutdown within minutes.
“All that has to happen is the Speaker of the House has to bring a clean bill that we passed here in the Senate and give all of his members a chance to vote on it, and if he does that, this crisis is over,” Sanders said.