BENNINGTON -- With $85 billion in sequestration cuts slowly setting in, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is focusing on crafting a federal budget that closes tax loopholes for the wealthy and corporations and protects low- and middle-income Americans.
The independent senator, one of the most progressive in the upper chamber, is working with his Democratic colleagues on the Senate Budget Committee. The committee is expected to begin working on a 10-year budget plan this week, which should hit the Senate floor later this month.
Funding for a plethora of government programs is due to run out on March 27. The promise of passing a budget before then, given the gridlock in Washington, is minimal. House Republicans are simultaneously working on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded.
Sanders, in a telephone interview Monday, said he is not yet willing to consider a continuing resolution, and certainly not one that has yet to emerge from the House.
"We’ll see what the continuing resolution is," Sanders said. "I don’t want to talk about hypotheses."
In the meantime, Budget Committee Chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, is leading budget discussions among Democrats, with whom Sanders caucuses. Republicans are not yet in the mix.