News February 4

Senator Sanders

USPS Lawmakers are re-evaluating how to move forward this year on U.S. Postal Service reform after running out of time at the end of the last Congress. This effort will have to balance Sen. Bernie Sanders, who worked to limit the cost-cutting measures in last year’s bill, and Sen. Tom Coburn, who believes the measure never did give USPS the flexibility it needed, The Hill reported. LINK

Gas Prices Lawmakers in both Vermont and New Hampshire are considering raising gasoline taxes which could complicate the “border wars” over prices at Upper Valley gas pumps. Gas station owners in Vermont caught “an awful lot of wind” from Sen. Sanders last year when he complained of inflated gas prices, Tom Frawley, president of a company that owns stations in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, told the Valley News. LINK

Wind Power Apparently undaunted by the public recriminations issued by Sen. Sanders last Monday, proponents of a moratorium on mountaintop wind began taking testimony Tuesday on a bill that would halt new development for three years, the Vermont Press Bureau reported. LINK

Burlington Lakefront The Moran Power Plant closed 25 years ago, but Saturday the gates were open to give the public a peek inside the run-down facility. Opening the plant is part of Mayor Miro Weinberger's push to redevelop the Waterfront - a task first attempted by Bernie Sanders when he held Burlington's top office, WCAX-TV reported. LINK, VIDEO

The Harkin Void “Tom Harkin’s decision to retire from the Senate at the end of his current term will create an immeasurable void in the chamber where he has served for more than a quarter-century … Harkin has always understood something that only a few other progressives—Wellstone, Russ Feingold, Bernie Sanders—have ever really “got”: that it is not necessary to sacrifice principles when organizing coalitions of conscience across lines of party and ideology,” John  Nichols blogged for The Nation. LINK

Ethan Allen and Bernie Sanders Biographer Willard Sterne Randall, the author of "Ethan Allen: His Life and Times," said the Revolutionary War hero “was quintessential Vermonter … He did not care as much about money as he did principle.” If he were alive today, Ethan Allen would be a “populist independent, closer to Bernie Sanders than certainly the Republican and Democratic caucuses,” Randall told the Burlington Free Press. LINK

A Bernie Block Print A block print titled "Bernie Sanders" by artist Harry Bliss is on display in a new exhibit at the Amy Tarrant Gallery in Burlington, the Burlington Free Press. LINK


Iran The United States is ready for direct talks with Iran if it is serious about negotiations, Vice President Joe Biden said on Saturday, backing bilateral contact many see as crucial to easing a dispute over Tehran's nuclear program, Reuters reported. LINK


Obama: More Revenue Needed President Obama said additional revenue is needed to bring down the U.S. deficit. Rather than raising taxes, the president proposed closing loopholes that he suggested allow wealthy Americans to manipulate their tax rates. “The average person doesn't have access to Cayman Island accounts," the president said in a pre-Super Bowl interview on Sunday with CBS News. LINK

Reid: New Revenue Vital to Budget Deal Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Democrats will demand additional revenue as part of any deal to alter the mandatory spending cuts set to hit at the beginning of next month. The comments, made in an interview Sunday with ABC's "This Week," come as Senate Democrats weigh options for averting at least some of the March 1 cuts, known in Washington as the sequester, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

Senate Gun Bill The Senate’s top Democrat offered fresh details Sunday about his position in the renewed debate over guns, as he endorsed expanding background checks on gun sales and promised to consider bans on assault-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, The Washington Post reported. “Everyone acknowledges we should do something with background checks,” Majority Leader Reid said. LINK

Transportation Deborah Hersman, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board and a former congressional staffer, is a leading candidate to be nominated as transportation secretary to replace Ray LaHood, according to The Wall Street Journal. LINK

VA Claim Delays Veterans across Maryland who have filed disability claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Baltimore office may wait more than a year for a decision and even then face a 25 percent chance that their claims will be mishandled, according to agency figures. Nationally, the system is struggling with a backlog of more than 900,000 claims, the result of a sharp increase in filings by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as well as by older generations, The Washington Post reported. LINK


Education Gov. Peter Shumlin scheduled a news conference at the Trinity Children's Center in Burlington at 11 a.m. Monday is to talk about the need for increased funding of early childhood education and quality day care, AP reported. LINK