Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Friday tore into what he called "extreme right-wing Republicans" for threatening to shut down the government and default on the nation's debts if President Barack Obama's health care reform law was not defunded.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Sanders said that he welcomed a discussion about how to improve the health care law.
"But one thing is certain, you do not hold the American people hostage by threatening to shut down the government or for the first time in the history of our country not paying our bills and bringing this country and perhaps the entire world into a major financial crisis," he explained. "There was an election a year ago on this very issue -- one of the major issues in the campaign -- and the Republican candidate said, 'Let's defund Obamacare.' He lost the election! Republicans lost seats in the Senate, they lost seats in the House! And that's what democracy is about."
"What democracy is not about is a handful of members of the House of Representatives, extreme right-wing Republicans, saying, 'If we do not get our way, we are prepared to punish tens of millions of Americans. Yeah, we lost the election. Yeah, we lost seats in the House and Senate. But we are prepared to bring this government down. We are prepared to cause, perhaps, a major global financial crisis unless we get our way!'"
He continued: "Let us not tell men and women in the United States armed forces, who today are putting their lives on the line to defend us, that they're not going to get paid. Let us not tell police officers here in Washington and elsewhere, they may not get paid. Let's not tell working families, who take take their little kids into Head Start so they can then go out to work, that that program may be killed. Let's not tell senior citizens, who are on the Meals on Wheels program who can't leave their homes who depend upon a meal, let's not punish them because you've got small number of extreme right wingers who want to get their way at the expense of millions and millions of people."
Sanders pointed out that the current debate in Congress was "making us look like fools throughout the entire world because a handful of right wing extremists are so determined to try to destroy this president."
"There's a lot to be debating about, but one thing we should not be debating about is shutting down the United States government in order to achieve a narrow political goal."