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Government edges closer to shutdown over Obamacare

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Hours before a threatened government shutdown, the Senate has the next move Monday on must-do budget legislation that has fueled a bitter congressional dispute over President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

But the Senate won't be riding to the rescue, at least not immediately. When it convenes at midday, the Democratic-led chamber is expected to reject the latest effort from House Republicans to use a normally routine measure to attack "Obamacare."

If no compromise can be reached by midnight, Americans would soon see the impact of a government shutdown. National parks would close. Many low-to-moderate incomes borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays.

About 800,000 federal 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.

Senate rejection would send the measure back to the House, where conservative Republicans want to delay by a year key parts of the new health care law and repeal a tax on medical devices as the price for avoiding a shutdown. A House GOP leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, said the House would rebuff the Senate's efforts to advance the short-term funding bill as a simple, "clean" measure shorn of anti-heath care reform provisions.

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 Tuesday, tea party Republicans are willing to take the risk in their drive to kill the law, so-called "Obamacare."

"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.

A leader of the tea party Republicans, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, insisted the blame rests with Senate Democrats.

"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, (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid says, 'I refuse even to talk,'" said Cruz, 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 failed.

The battle started with a House vote to pass the short-term funding bill with a provision that would have eliminated the federal dollars needed to put Obama's health care overhaul into place. The Senate voted along party lines to strip that out and sent the measure back to the House.

The latest House bill, passed early Sunday by a near party-line vote of 231-192, sent back to the Senate two major 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. The steps still go too far for the White House and its Democratic allies.

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

A senior leader vowed the House 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 McCarthy, the No. 3 House Republican leader.

He suggested that House Republicans would try blocking a mandate that individuals buy health insurance or face a tax penalty, saying there might be some Democratic support in the Senate for that.

On the other hand, Democrats said the GOP's bravado may fade as the deadline to avert a shutdown nears.

Asked whether he could vote for a "clean" temporary funding bill, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said he couldn't. But he added, "I think there's enough people in the Republican Party who are willing to do that. And I think that's what you're going to see."

A leading Senate GOP moderate called on her fellow Republicans to back down.

"I disagree with the strategy of linking Obamacare with the continuing functioning of government—a strategy that cannot possibly work," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

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.

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.

Tea party lawmakers 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 and Labrador were on NBC's "Meet the Press." Van Hollen appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation."

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  • I'm conservative but.....
    I am a conservative but not maybe tea party, extreme. The budget, the CRA and the upcoming Debt Ceiling request have nothing to do with Obamacare. It's just that the mindless, self centered, big business loving folks in the House, use the budget as their bully pulpit. They should be ashamed.
  • Information folks
    The other thread on the exchanges mentions that the Library is holding informational sessions on ACA. Sounds like more than a few of you need to turn off Fox News and do some actual research. And, to DC Indy, I have friends and business contacts in Canada and England. They LOVE their healthcare and pity us our inability to sort this ridiculousness out.
  • Keep pushing that myth..
    The 'Marekin Patriots' the Koch Brothers were mentioned in an earlier post. They're actually big on spreading GOP myths and fear in general. The group Florida Watchdog.org, is an offshoot of the Koch brothers-funded Watchdog.org. Florida Watchdog is responsible for the dis-proven myth that congress is exempt from the ACA. Congress has to sign up for the exchanges on Jan 1st like everyone else. You angry GOP gents should cast a wider net when you search out your "news" and "facts." Maybe a simplified explanation about this myth would help some of you? Check out the non partisan factcheck.org they make it pretty simple for you. (There are more complicated explanations out there as well.)
  • 360 degree's
    I dedicate this song to the Tea Party boy's down there in Congress who forgot they were only out to destroy big government and not everyone else in between. "watch out, you might get what you wanted......' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF2DD_rjMwQ
  • About those "skyrocketing" premiums...
    Funny thing: Every single "Obamacare" plan in our state costs less per year than what I get at work, without any subsidy from the government. (And obviously, none from my employer.) Maybe the networks are more limited, but so what? If your doctor isn't on the plan you want to sign up for pick a different one. There is no "one size fits all" under Obamacare, contrary to the lies that have been pushed on the right.
  • Yeah, Right
    Right now it sure looks like the Republicans are shooting themselves in their collective feet, but that may not be how it will ultimately be viewed. When premiums skyrocket, which actuaries predict, when more jobs get eliminated, hours get reduced and insurers force patients to specific providers, people are going to HATE Obamacare. How often do you hear Canadians brag about their healthcare system? Crickets. Congress exempted itself. And even the unions don't want it now, although they were all for it before they figured out what it was going to do to their members' livelihoods. Socialism just doesn't work.
    • Useful Democrat idiots
      Only low-information Democrats would celebrate a bill that exempts those who made the rules, those who administer it and those who give big money to help Democrats win elections. If Obamacare is so great, then every politician and federal worker should be thrown on the exchanges with their small networks of doctors & hospitals and high premiums. There's no hope for useful Democrat idiots who think The Daily Show is a news show, mindlessly spew Democrat talking points and never, ever question their own leaders.
    • Suspend salaries
      The first cuts should be to the Senate--their salaries as well as their healthcare benefits. Let them find their own insurance without the benefit of the ACA. Would be a shame if they had a pre-existing condition. They are in dire need of a dose of reality.
    • No negoitiations?
      So our exalted leader, who thinks he is above the people, has repeatedly said he will not negotiate. That is REAL leadership (sic) and reeks of his imperialistic attitude as what he has commanded must be imposed on us serfs who pay his salary. Yet the media almost always portrays the GOP as the bad guy holding up his implementation of his ‘values and ideology’ he wants to force on us all. GOD help us all!
    • Sorry "Stay Steady"
      The GOP doesn't want to "fix" Obamacare. Their alternative for people who can't afford healthcare is NO healthcare. They have Koch Brothers funded commercials to prove it. The ACA isn't as extreme as the chicken littles on the right would have you believe.(They just loath the guy who created it) Conservatism is wounded and is bleeding support across ALL demographics.
    • Are you CLUELESS?
      Look into the details and then respond!
    • They are working to change it
      Incredulous, This is what trying to change it looks like. Democrats have exempted their friends in the 1% and delayed the business mandate for one year, but they want to force this tax on the 99%. Republicans want to delay the tax another year so the law can be improved. The Republicans weren't hurt in '96 when the government shutdown (maintained Congress; gained seats in Senate) and they won't be hurt this time around.
    • The Lunatic GOP
      The state of the Republican Party is dismal at best. They're willing to wreck our entire economy to prevent poor people from getting insurance?? Thats pathetic. Don't like Obamacare? Work to change it. I hope the next election buries Conservatives. The Dems aren't great, but the ignorance & bigotry in the Republican Party is frightening.

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