Sept. 27--YORK, Pa. -- U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said it's believed that U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals would remain open if there were a partial federal government shutdown, but veterans benefits could be delayed or reduced.
Casey said Pennsylvania has more than 109,000 veterans who receive disability or pension payments.
"The idea that a veteran should have to wait for his disability check, because some Washington politician is acting like a third-grader and engaged in an ideological stunt, is really insulting," Casey said.
The comments came during a conference call with reporters Thursday, where Casey warned against the potential impact of a partial government shut down, saying it would hurt the entire economy.
Parts of the federal government will be forced to shut down unless a temporary spending bill is passed before Tuesday.
House Republicans last week passed a stopgap spending bill that would remove funding for President Barack Obama's 2010 health-care law. But Senate Democrats have said they won't pass a temporary spending bill with such a "defund Obamacare" provision.
In a shutdown, mandatory spending programs, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, would continue, according to an analysis from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. But non-essential discretionary functions would stop.
Border protection, medical care of inpatients, air traffic control, law enforcement and power grid maintenance were among the services classified as essential in prior shutdowns, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
Casey also said that a shutdown could delay financial support for more than 227,000 small businesses in Pennsylvania and delay military pay.
Casey said the voters had a clear choice in the 2012 presidential election -- with Obama supporting his health-care law and Republican nominee Mitt Romney wanting to repeal it.
"There was no ambiguity," Casey said.
He said he thinks there are plenty of Americans who have concerns about the Affordable Care Act and want to change it.
"Many of them would encourage further debate on health care," he said. "What they don't want to have happen is an accommodation ... made for an extreme wing of one party."
U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-York County, said Americans also voted for a Republican-controlled House.
Like nearly all House Republicans, he voted in favor of the temporary budget bill that called for defunding the health-care law.
He said he wouldn't be able to vote for a clean continuing resolution that Senate Democrats have called for.
"If they don't like defunding Obamacare ... what are they willing to do?" Perry said. "Just sending it back, and saying, 'We're going to continue to spend money like everything's fine here,' ... I find that to be irresponsible."
He said the impact of a government shutdown isn't fully known at this point, because the executive branch, in most cases, authorizes what's paid and what level.
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said on the Senate floor Thursday that lawmakers should compromise by repealing "a few of the more egregious flaws" of the federal health-care law.
"Maybe this doesn't have to be an all or nothing proposition," he said.
He advocated for repealing the medical-device tax, delaying the individual mandate for one year and eliminating a contraception coverage requirement for faith-based organizations.
In a statement later, Toomey called it a "sensible approach" and said he hopes to avoid a shutdown.
Some of the impact
Social Security and Medicare checks would still be sent out, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. But new applications would likely not be processed until funding resumed.
The new budget year begins Tuesday.
Another deadline looms, as the government could run out of money to pay its bills in the coming weeks if Congress doesn't raise the federal debt limit.
President Barack Obama said Thursday at a community college in Largo, Md., that he "will not negotiate on anything when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States of America," according to the Associated Press.
U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-York County, said continuing resolutions and the debt limit have been the subject of negotiations in the past.
"I would say that it seems odd to me that he's willing to negotiate with Iran, with Syria, with Russia and with a whole host of other foreign nations, but yet won't even entertain a negotiation with his countrymen," Perry said.
U.S. Rep. Scott Perry supports defunding Obamacare in budget battle, calls on Senate to act
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Original headline: Sen. Casey says government shutdown could delay or reduce veterans benefits
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