News October 18

Senator Sanders

Budget Conference Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray kicked off the next phase of budget negotiations with a bipartisan breakfast Thursday morning. The two lawmakers will lead a budget conference committee tasked with reconciling differences between the Republican and Democratic spending plans. Sen. Sanders was appointed to the conference committee, ABC NewsThe Washington PostPolitico, Real Clear Politics and Bangor Daily News reported. Sen. Sanders said on WAMC-FM that any new budget negotiations must not include draconian cuts. AUDIO, LINKLINKLINK

Democrats in the South Southern Democrats are seizing on the widespread dissatisfaction with Republican lawmakers. Sen. Sanders is touring southern states this week. Ahead of an important Senate vote to reopen the government, Sanders video conferenced with a town-hall meeting in Jackson, Misss. "If you don't get involved in the conservative states, they'll never be battleground states in the future," Sanders told the audience, according to the Jackson Free PressLINK

The Playboy Interview Like Martin Luther King Jr., Jimmy Carter and Steve Jobs before him, Sen. Bernie Sanders sat down for a Playboy Interview. Out on Thursday, the topics raised by noted economics writer Jonathan Tasini ranged from health care to the gaping wealth and income gap in America. LINK

Democrats United Under Reid Under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the entire Democratic caucus, from Sen. Sanders to Sen. Joe Manchin, united to oppose Republican demands during the government shutdown, Paul Begala wrote for CNNLINK

Chained-CPI The 2014 Social Security cost-of-living adjustment is scheduled to be released soon by the Department of Labor. Although the precise COLA adjustment will depend on September's inflation numbers, it will reportedly only be about 1.5 percent. Sen. Sanders is one "outspoken champion" of an honest COLA measure that would better reflect inflation for Social Security recipients, Nancy Altman and Eric Kingson wrote in The Huffington PostLINK

Bristol Health Center Receives Federal Designation Administrators of the Mountain Health Center in Bristol, Vt.,said Thursday they received word that the center has been officially designated a Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike, The Eagle reported. Jill Mackle of Five-Town Health Alliance’s board of directors, credited Sen. Sanders for paving the way for the important designation. "Sen. Sanders’ commitment to making quality health care available to all Vermonters … helped us achieve this important designation," Mackle said. LINK

The Media and the Shutdown The media shares some responsibility for the government shutdown, argues Sean McElwee of PolicyMic. "There is no denying that the media creates and then perpetrates absurd narratives that serve to narrow the field to two corporate-friendly establishment candidates. Any candidates that don’t fit within this narrative (say, a Dennis Kucinich, Howard Dean, Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren) will be quickly written off as unelectable," he wrote. LINK 

The Extremes President Obama on Thursday "was still maddeningly vague about... all that talk about the dangers of 'the extremes,' as though Bernie Sanders was as relevant to the events of the past two weeks as Ted Cruz was," Charles Pierce wrote for EsquireLINK 

Campaign Fundraising Vermont's congressional delegation reported how much money they raised for their reelection campaigns in the second quarter, Seven Days reported. Rep. Peter Welch collected $213,000, while Sens. Sanders and Patrick Leahy pulled in $33,000 and $31,000 respectively. LINK


Obama Calls for Spirit of Cooperation In the wake of a costly government shutdown, President Barack Obama on Thursday acknowledged the frustrations of the American people and called on Republicans and Democrats to cooperate in tackling the nation's long list of problems, The New York Times reported. LINK

Parties Start Work to Avoid Repeat Crisis  With the government reopened and a debt default averted for now, Congressional negotiators on Thursday plunged into difficult budget talks to avoid a repeat crisis within months, and quickly agreed to lower their sights from the sort of grand bargain that has eluded the two parties for three years. After approval late Wednesday of the agreement ending the standoff, the deal-making mantle shifted overnight from the leaders of the Senate to the Budget Committee leaders, Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, and Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, two less senior lawmakers who nonetheless could make very effective salespeople since they command loyal followings in their parties, The New York Times reported. LINK

Federal Workers Head Back to Work As hundreds of thousands of federal workers headed back to work in the Washington area Thursday after a 16-day government shutdown, barricades at national parks and monuments came down; programs that serve veterans, senior citizens and cancer patients cranked back up; and Metro trains were once again packed at rush hour, The Washington Post reported. LINK  

McConnell: No More Obamacare Shutdowns Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told The Hill he will not allow another government shutdown as part of a strategy to repeal Obamacare. “I think we have fully now acquainted our new members with what a losing strategy that is,” he added. LINK 

Jeh Johnson Tapped for Homeland Security President Obama is expected to nominate former Pentagon lawyer Jeh Johnson to be the next Homeland Security secretary, ABC News reported.LINK

Federal Pay Raise The budget measure that ended the government shutdown and lifted the debt ceiling allows for a 1 percent pay raise for federal employees in January, The Washington Post reported. Federal employees have not seen a raise in the past three years. LINK


F-35s The city of Burlington can do little to prevent F-35 fighter jets from being based at its airport, City Attorney Eileen Blackwood has concluded. The city agreed, when accepting federal grants, to allow all government planes to use Burlington International Airport, Blackwood wrote. Any attempts by the city to “deny, block or prevent access to the airport” for F-35s could jeopardize that funding, she said, according to the Burlington Free Press. LINK

Sen. Leahy A day after Congress voted to end the federal shutdown at least until mid-January, Sen. Patrick Leahy was back in Vermont. Leahy, who continued to characterize the shutdown as unnecessary and as the work of extremists, offered only generalities about the direction he thinks the federal budget and the deficit should go as negotiations continue. No need to cut Social Security, as some have argued, Leahy said, but he supports asking the wealthy to pay more into the program.