Democrats, GOP in shutdown staredown

Republicans willing to take risk to kill health care law
Associated Press
Sep 29, 2013

As the government teeters on the brink of a partial shutdown, congressional Republicans vowed Sunday to keep using an otherwise routine government funding bill to try to attack "Obamacare."

Congress was closed for the day after a post-midnight vote in the GOP-run House to delay by a year key parts of the new health care law and repeal a tax on medical devices, in exchange for avoiding a shutdown. The Senate is slated to convene Monday afternoon just hours before the shutdown deadline, and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has already promised that majority Democrats will kill the House's latest volley.

Since the last government shutdown 17 years ago, temporary funding bills known as continuing resolutions have been noncontroversial, with neither party willing to chance a shutdown to achieve legislative goals it couldn't otherwise win. But with health insurance exchanges set to open on Tuesday, tea-party Republicans are willing to take the risk in their drive to kill the health care law.

The action in Washington was limited mainly to the Sunday talk shows and barrages of press releases as Democrats and Republicans rehearsed arguments for blaming each other if the government in fact closes its doors at midnight Monday.

"You're going to shut down the government if you can't prevent millions of Americans from getting affordable care," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

"The House has twice now voted to keep the government open. And if we have a shutdown, it will only be because when the Senate comes back, Harry Reid says, 'I refuse even to talk,'" said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who led a 21-hour broadside against allowing the temporary funding bill to advance if stripped clean of a tea party-backed provision to derail Obamacare. The effort ultimately failed.

The battle started with a House vote to pass the short-term funding bill with a provision that would have defunded implementation of the health care overhaul. The Senate voted along party lines to strip that out and lobbed the measure back to the House. The latest House measure, passed early Sunday by a near party-line vote of 231-192, sent back to the Senate two key changes: a one year delay of key provisions of the health insurance law and repeal of a new tax on medical devices that partially funds it, steps that still go too far for The White House and its Democratic allies on Capitol Hill.

Senate rules often make it difficult to act quickly, but the chamber can act on the House's latest proposals by simply calling them up and killing them on a nondebatable motion.

Eyes were already turning to the House Sunday for its next move. One of its top leaders vowed it would not simply give in to Democrats' demands to pass the Senate's "clean" funding bill.

"The House will get back together in enough time, send another provision not to shut the government down, but to fund it, and it will have a few other options in there for the Senate to look at again," said the No. 3 House Republican leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California. "We are not shutting the government down."

McCarthy wouldn't say what changes Republicans might make. He appeared to suggest that a very short-term measure might pass at the last minute, but GOP aides said that was unlikely. And rumors Saturday night that GOP leaders might include a provision to deny lawmakers and staff aides their employer health care contributions from the government had cooled by Sunday afternoon. Lawmakers and congressional aides are required to purchase health insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchanges but the administration has taken steps to make sure they continue to receive their 72 percent employer contribution.

Republicans argued that Reid should have convened the Senate on Sunday to act on the measure.

"If the Senate stalls until Monday afternoon instead of working today, it would be an act of breathtaking arrogance by the Senate Democratic leadership," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "They will be deliberately bringing the nation to the brink of a government shutdown."

In the event lawmakers blow the Monday deadline, about 800,000 workers would be forced off the job without pay. Some critical services such as patrolling the borders, inspecting meat and controlling air traffic would continue. Social Security benefits would be sent and the Medicare and Medicaid health care programs for the elderly and poor would continue to pay doctors and hospitals.

The Senate was not scheduled to meet until midafternoon Monday, 10 hours before a shutdown would begin, and even some Republicans said privately they feared that Reid holds the advantage in the fast-approaching end game.

Republicans argued that they had already made compromises; for instance, their latest measure would leave intact most parts of the health care law that have taken effect, including requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions and to let families' plans cover children up to age 26. They also would allow insurers to deny contraception coverage based on religious or moral objections.

Democrats countered that Republicans were seizing a routine funding measure and holding it hostage, seeking leverage to unfairly jam Democrats into making concessions. Democrats were confident they could hold firm, and some more senior Republicans acknowledged that the situation is rife with political risk for their party.

But tea party forces in the House — egged on by Cruz — forced GOP leaders to abandon an earlier plan to deliver a "clean" stopgap spending bill to the Senate and move the fight to another must-do measure looming in mid-October: a bill to increase the government's borrowing cap to avert a market-rattling, first-ever default on U.S. obligations.

McCarthy appeared on "Fox News Sunday," while Cruz was on NBC's "Meet the Press." Van Hollen appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation."

 

Comments

grumpy

Poor, poor Piddle Puppy, when facts and history bites his a$$ he behaves like a typical 5 year old. It is so much fun to jerk his chain... and so predictable.

shucks

.

shucks

"Last time significant cuts in food stamps was under Clinton... he signed the bill to do so."

Spin.

grumpy

Clinton cut Food Stamps, he limited them to 3 months per year, made them more difficult to get, made them more difficult to apply for. Where is the spin? Look it up. Happened in 95 or 96.

OSUBuckeye59

It looks highly likely our government, for all intents and purposes, will partially shut down @midnight. I write partial because most major programs like Social Security and Medicare are paid out of permanent appropriations and therefore won't be impacted by Congress & the POTUS not agreeing on a budget. The real fight, and the higher stakes, are with the debt ceiling.

Our deadlocked Congress committed to entitlements it will not reduce, appropriated funds it does not have, borrowed money it cannot repay and is holding fast to a debt ceiling they imposed but will not raise. As others have pointed out, the debt ceiling "is an anachronism. It's an accountability mechanism from the days when Congress didn't much involve itself in federal budgeting. Today, Congress exerts full control over the federal budget. The debt ceiling isn't imposing accountability on the executive but calling into question whether Congress will pay the bills it has already chosen to incur." This is truly the definition of insanity . . . our congressional leaders authorize a budget then hold it hostage when it comes time to spending the money in the approved budget.

If the debt ceiling is not raised, and the executive branch stops borrowing, the government will need to cut spending by about 15 to 20%, which is almost 40% of spending on everything (including Medicare and defense) other than the interest on the debt. The question many are now asking is, "Will Obama raise the debt ceiling w/o Congressional approval?" The White House is currently saying Obama won't take this action, which means he probably *WILL* take this action if need be because he precisely said he would not. And if Obama does indeed go down this road, we might even hear him talk about Abraham Lincoln using much the same tack during the Civil War.

When Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War, he said that it was necessary to violate one law, lest all the laws but one fall into ruin. So Obama might decide it best to violate the debt ceiling to prevent a catastrophe — whether a default on the debt or an enormous reduction in federal spending, which would throw the country back into recession. If Congress and/or Obama doesn't raise the debt ceiling, and Obama then chooses to pay the debt interest while cutting expenditures, hundreds of billions of dollars will vanish from the American economy, sending thousands out of work and depriving many others of pension checks, medical insurance, and basic services. If Obama stops interest payments, the United States will default. This will not only raise interest payments, costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars, but it could spark a financial panic like the meltdown of 2008. Treasuries (as well as other government securities) are used in the repo market, which funds the major financial institutions. If that $5 trillion-to-$10 trillion market collapsed, it would take the banking system with it.

But if the debt ceiling isn't raised by Congress *AND* Obama decides to raise it on his own, not only is there little chance he'll be impeached as a Democratically-controlled Senate means no chance on a 2/3 conviction vote + the Supreme Court would most likely refuse to intervene under the political question doctrine, which directs courts to stay out of disputes between the legislative and the executive branches, but the GOP would be privately thanking him dearly while publicly crying outrage because the GOP wouldn't have compromised on their "No taxes and no Obama Care!" pledge.

I have 99.99% belief there will be zero compromise before midnight, our government will partially shut down, and many Government employees like Rangers in National Parks might have to go on unpaid leave while others wonder how much longer they'll receive pay. But the bigger D-Day, as in Decision Day, comes in mid-October.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Thank you for the good and well-thought read. It's refreshing amid some others here.

OSUBuckeye59

And I thank you for your kind words.

thinkagain

You could have read much of it at any number of different websites. Plagiarizing content and passing it off as your own doesn’t warrant kudos.

EZOB

Republicans Kill? And who supports Abortion?
If this shut down lasts less than 2 weeks it's a very huge win for Republicans. We all know Republicans are big business and by the time the fall of 2014 comes around the Democrats will suffer "HUGE" defeats at the polls. I just hope that everyone has to come under the ACA and no one or no union is exempt.

OSUBuckeye59

As long as any of us continues to believe one of the two major party's "wins", or that one of the two major party's *SHOULD* "win", we all continue to lose as a country. The constant bickering, fighting and finger-pointing from our supposed federally-elected leaders needs to stop.

The great scientist George Box made the now-famous quote, "All models are wrong, but some are useful". I would suggest the political version of that same saying is, "All politicians are wrong, but some are useful." As soon as our elected officials realize this, perhaps they can help our country move forward instead of staying mired in their individual political party cesspools.

KURTje

Rep. Nolan/Minn. wants Congress NOT to get paid.

OSUBuckeye59

Unfortunately, this is yet another example of an elected official making a public show. Rep. Nolan knows full well the only way to stop funding Congressional members is through Congress creating and then approving legislation to make it so. Yet more grandstanding.

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