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Congress bickers as U.S. government shutdown looms

17 Comments

Divided American lawmakers careened Thursday toward a budget deadline that could see the U.S. government shut down on Oct 1, as their leaders sniped over who is to blame.

The debate over how to fund government is pushing Congress to the brink for a third straight year, with Democrats and Republicans seemingly unable to compromise on a stop-gap measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to keep federal offices and programs running for even two and a half more months.

Conservatives who carry sway in the Republican-led House of Representatives insist they will only vote for a budget deal if it defunds President Barack Obama's national health care law, parts of which go into effect in October.

House Speaker John Boehner has introduced a CR to fund government until Dec 15 at a baseline rate that includes the controversial automatic budget cuts that kicked in earlier this year.

In seeking to appease the right, he inserted a measure that calls for defunding Obamacare.

But some conservatives balked, calling it a "gimmick" that could be easily stripped from legislation that passes the Democratic-controlled Senate, and Boehner on Wednesday was forced to delay the vote.

Top House and Senate leaders met Thursday to navigate through the impasse, but they sounded somber as they addressed reporters afterward.

"I'm really frightened," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, referring to the prospects of a government shutdown.

"I had to be very candid with him (Boehner), and I told him very directly that all these things they are trying to do on Obamacare are just a waste of their time."

Reid urged Boehner to break with Republicans backed by the so-called "Tea Party" faction of small-government radicals, whom he accused of using "guerrilla tactics" to bring spending to a halt.

"If the Republican leaders keep giving in to the Tea Party and their impossible demands, they must be rooting for a shutdown," Reid said.

Boehner bristled when a reporter noted there was very little time before the Sept 30 end of the fiscal year, which could trigger a disastrous government shutdown if no budget is in place by Oct 1.

"I'm well aware of the deadlines. So are my colleagues," Boehner said. "I'm going to be continuing to work with my fellow leaders and our members to address those concerns."

He stressed that his caucus nevertheless would "do everything we can to repeal, dismantle and defund Obamacare."

The two sides have shown a willingness to temporarily fund the government at the annual rate of $988 billion while they address broader fiscal challenges including the debt ceiling, which the U.S. Treasury said will need to be raised by mid-October.

With an ongoing revolt by conservatives, the White House sought to ward off their willingness to flirt with a potential shutdown and credit default.

"We will not accept anything that delays or defunds Obamacare," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

"Congress needs to pass a budget and not attach politically motivated riders to their funding bills."

Lawmakers returned from summer break last week expecting to focus on fiscal issues, but the Syria crisis postponed those debates, and on Thursday House Majority Leader Eric Cantor warned members that Congress might have to cancel an upcoming break set for the week of Sept 23.

Hot on the heels of the budget battle, Congress must agree on raising the government's legal borrowing limit, currently at $16.7 trillion, or risk a calamitous default.

Conservatives in the Senate, too, have been adamant about refusing to raise the debt cap unless Obamacare is defunded, further complicating efforts to reach fiscal stability this year.

"I've never seen anything quite like this," Senator Chuck Schumer said.

The Republican Study Committee of House conservatives is floating a plan that would avoid a government shutdown while delaying the implementation of Obamacare for one year.

"While we're not there yet, productive conversations towards that goal continue," the group's chairman Steve Scalise said.

© (C) 2013 AFP

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

17 Comments
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And yet Obama manages more funds for war.....And a $400 plus billion in the IRS.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Go ahead, shut it down. That will eliminate the threat of Syrians dying and getting maimed in U.S. missile strikes.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The fiscally-irresponsible, some of whom reside in both parties, insist on having their cake and eating it, too. The various welfare programs have broken the bank: social welfare, corporate welfare, military welfare, political welfare. The cancer of profligacy is terminal.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The problem is easy to fix; term limits. The founding fathers never wanted a king or queen so they designed term limits for the presidency. We need to get rid of life-time politicians by installing term limits which will de-fang the special interest groups, etc.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Term limits, I wish. Republican/Democratic is there rally much difference? Some from each side elect to argue clear and distinct differences. Not really so in the big picture. Lawyers overrun the political arena and are not benefitting "the people".

This "looming shutdown" is a basically a power struggle between two parties choosing to divide the US citizens even more. It's all BS!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I'm more surprised how apathetic Americans are to their government. Revolution this mutha and let's start from scratch. Jefferson would be proud.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Conservatives in the Senate, too, have been adamant about refusing to raise the debt cap unless Obamacare is defunded, further complicating efforts to reach fiscal stability this year.

I just don't see how this is anything other than subverting the democratic process. It was voted on and vetted by the Supreme Court.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

GOP politicians playing for tea party support have demagogued to such an extent on what they claim is an existential threat to the US posed by Obamacare that they can in no way back down now.

Boehner's CR proposal is clearly seen for the sop that it is, and whether he'll be able to pass it is doubtful. He will then be left with two choices: To rely on the Democrats and those few sane GOP representatives to send a "clean" CR to the Senate; or to shut down the government - and the latter does not even solve the problem.

That is some fine bed the GOP has made for itself.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is a republican versus republican crisis. The republican leadership cannot control the tea party losers who are basically anarchists. The greatest threat to America is not in the middle east any longer, it is from the tea party loons. They want to destroy the country.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Whats the problem, just keep doing what all governments do, keep the printing press running at full speed and print more monopoly money till true disaster hits the financial world as is inevitable.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Rewrite the law easy fix. Politicians want to argue and sqwabble for their own selfish reasons. Fix the damn thing and lets move on damn leaches in Govt.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Repeal Obamacare.

Eliminate every welfare program.

Restore the rule of law according to the Constitution.
-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The problem is easy to fix; term limits. The founding fathers never wanted a king or queen so they designed term limits for the presidency. We need to get rid of life-time politicians by installing term limits which will de-fang the special interest groups, etc.

LOL! You're not from America, are you? If you were, you'd know that term limits for the President were not established until all of the "founding fathers" had been dead and buried for over a century. Specifically, the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution was first proposed in Congress on March 24 1947 and was enacted on February 27 1951. The amendment was proposed to prevent another president like Franklin Roosevelt - who served into his fourth term before dying of a cerebral hemorrhage in April 1945.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't think he could even help today, the real power brokers have leveraged so much influence throughout the governments of the world, that I don't think anyone could slow them down.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The USA needs 4 things:

Campaign finance reform - only a human voter in any specific election should be able to provide soft OR hard money to a candidate. This stops elected officials from paying attention to corporations, unless individuals agree

Term limits for all elected offices - dog catcher to President

Defund the NSA, TSA, DHS; I've been embarrassed as an American in what these agencies have done the last 10 yrs. Take away their funding and toys. Solve the deficit.

Patent and Copyright Reforms - every few years, Congress has been voting to extend copyrights so that corporations maintain ownership of stories which would have passed into the public domain. Characters could be re-envisioned, expanded, taken into a different way. Most of all, shouldn't we be able to sing happy birthday without fear of being sued by now? Infinite time protection was never the intent for either of these intellectual property systems.

I was against "Obama-care" - but I'm also seeing how it will free Americans with health issues from being stuck at a specific employer. Many friends continue to work in terrible jobs just for the health insurance it provides. It was modeled after Mit Romney-care, so this really isn't about what is best for Americans, it has become a purely political fight over nothing.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Shut out congressional salary and expense accounts first. Shut out social security payments second. Lay off all air-traffic controllers third and finally send home all the border patrol agents and port authority officers. When we shut down the country, the idiot politicians will get their ass kicked for good.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Jean: Repeal Obamacare.

Not enough votes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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