State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Casey warns shutdown would affect PA

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Sep 26, 2013 8:41 PM
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Pennsylvania's Democratic U.S. Senator is warning the threatened federal government shutdown would be felt in Pennsylvania.

Sen. Bob Casey is denouncing the move by House Republicans to send to the Senate a resolution that would fund the federal government past October first, but only if the Affordable Care Act is defunded.

The stakes: a federal government shutdown beginning next month.

Casey said outing the lights for federal offices could hurt small businesses in Pennsylvania waiting for federal grants, veterans waiting for benefits, and Pennsylvania's nearly 24-thousand civilian military employees.

"The idea that a veteran should have to wait for his disability check because some Washington politician is acting like a third grader... is really insulting," Casey said.

"No service member, no veteran, no military family, no vulnerable person should have their benefits either stopped or even delayed because some politician in Washington, or politicians plural, is engaged in a political stunt, which is what this is."

Benefits checks for Social Security and Medicare will still go out in the event of a shutdown, according to NPR. But Casey noted that veterans' benefits were adversely affected during the 1996-97 shutdown.

"Of course there's always some uncertainly with this, but we believe that, if there was a shutdown, VA hospitals would stay open, but veterans' benefits could be reduced," Casey said.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey has signaled he opposes a short-term funding resolution unless it includes at least changes to the health care law, like a repeal of the medical device tax.

Casey supports the move, but says now is the wrong time to pursue it. He said the tax should be repealed after Congress averts a government shutdown and votes to increase its debt limit (the government is expected to exceed the debt ceiling and run out of money in mid-October without action).

"Then, we can have a debate 'til the cows come home on the budget, on the medical device tax - anything anybody wants, we should be debating and working on for the rest of the year," Casey said.


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