Sanders Rips Bush on Threatened Veto of Home Energy Help

BURLINGTON, Vt., August 6- Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today blasted President Bush for threatening to veto legislation to add an extra $2.5 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

The White House late Tuesday reasserted that Bush would veto a Sanders-sponsored bill to double the program that helps seniors, the disabled and families pay the costs of heating and cooling their homes.

"At a time when home heating prices are soaring and people are sweltering in the South, it is beyond comprehension that the president would threaten to veto desperately needed legislation that has the support of a tripartisan majority of senators, the nation's governors, AARP, and others," Sanders said.

Sanders and 52 other senators, including 13 Republicans, sponsored the Warm in the Winter and Cool in the Summer Act. If Republican Senate leaders dropped their obstruction tactics and allowed a vote on the bill, Sanders predicted it would be approved by a veto-proof majority.

"People in the north understand that it would be inhumane to stand by while seniors freeze to death this winter or kids get sick," he said. "People in hot-weather states know heat waves can be killers."

Sanders said the extra $2.5 billion for home energy assistance is a tiny fraction of what Bush has squandered in tax breaks for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. "It is impossible to understand George W. Bush's priorities. He's for trillions of dollars in tax breaks for the wealthy and he is spending $10 billion a month on Iraq, but he's a penny-pincher when it comes to making sure families, seniors, and the sick don't go cold this winter."

Sanders also called on Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) to denounce Bush's veto threat. "I hope Senator McCain will follow the call of Governor Napolitano and support Barack Obama and me in making this a truly tri-partisan response to the needs of the elderly and others facing skyrocketing home energy bills."

The tripartisan bill to double funds ran into a Republican leadership road block on July 26, when the vote on a procedural motion was 50 to 35, 10 short of the 60 needed to end a Republican filibuster and formally begin debate on the measure.