Sanders votes against supplemental war budget

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(Host) Congressman Bernie Sanders was one of the very few members of Congress to vote against the Iraq war budget bill late last week. Sanders says he hopes his vote sends a strong message to President Bush.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) The legislation appropriated $78 billion in a supplemental budget bill. Most of the $62 billion went directly to pay for military actions in Iraq. An additional $8 billion was allocated to foreign aid and the reconstruction of Iraq, $4 billion was targeted to homeland security programs and $3 billion was appropriated to help the airlines industry.

Not one senator voted against the bill and in the House only 12 members opposed it. Sanders was one of the 12:

(Sanders) “It was to send a message that the president’s spending priorities and budget preparations are literally beyond comprehension. Here is a president at a time with a $300 billion deficit and $6 trillion national debt who wants another $78 billion as part of a supplemental; who is cutting back on Medicare, Medicaid, education and veterans’ needs. And in the midst of all of this, is proposing hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks for the wealthiest one percent. To me, that is absolutely irresponsible from a fiscal point of view and will cause huge problems in this country.”

(Kinzel) Sanders says he’s also very upset that the Bush administration is cutting health care programs for veterans at a time when it’s sending troops overseas:

(Sanders) “If you can believe this. Not only is the president cutting back on Medicare, on Medicaid, on education. In the midst of this war he is cutting back big time on the needs of veterans, which will mean that there will be longer waiting lists for our veterans in the VA hospital. They have taken 160,000 veterans out of VA health care eligibility.”

(Kinzel) Sanders says he plans to work with a coalition of House members this spring in an effort to scale back the president’s tax cut plan.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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