Midnight Showdown: US Government Shutdown Imminent

Published on
by
Common Dreams

Midnight Showdown: US Government Shutdown Imminent

'Legislative hot potato' bounces back and forth as residents, workers set to suffer

by
Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

UPDATE:

The Senate has voted down the House spending bill by a 54-46 vote.

"We are not going to mess around with Obamacare, no matter what they do. They've gotta get a life," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told a news conference.

"We are not going to wait for [the House] to do anything other than pass our CR [continuing resolution], otherwise the government's going to shut down," said Reid.

According to the first GOP members to emerge from a House strategy session following the senate vote, the House will once again add on an amendment to their version of the bill "that imposes a one-year delay on a key provision of Obamacare, the individual mandate requiring everyone to carry insurance or face a fine," The Guardian reports, leaving both parties in the same position they were at the start of the day.

The midnight deadline for a resolution still looms as "Park Closed" signs started going up around D.C. National parks will be one of the first to lose funding as the government shuts down.

Earlier:

The back and forth between the U.S. House and Senate over a stop-gap budget bill to avoid a government shutdown continued on Monday, with the ball left in the Senate's court to pass a bill that both sides might agree on before a midnight deadline.

House Republicans continued on Sunday to insist any budget bill that passes must include a provision that does away with funding for the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act. They passed their version of a bill on Sunday that goes beyond gutting Obamacare to include a host of other Republican-flavored mandates, including a provision that would give US employers permission to opt out of contraceptive coverage for employees. Senate leaders have vowed that this bill will never pass through their chamber.

Reuters reports:

The high-stakes chess match in Congress will resume on Monday when the Democratic-controlled Senate reconvenes at 2 p.m. Senate Democrats will then attempt to strip two Republican amendments from the spending bill: the one that delays the 2010 healthcare law known as Obamacare and another to repeal a medical device tax that would help pay for the program.

They would then send a bill with a simple extension of government spending back to the House, putting the legislative hot potato back in Republican House Speaker John Boehner's lap as the shutdown looms. [...]

And yet, neither side wants to be the one to cast the final vote that would lead to a shutdown. Polls consistently show the American public is tired of political showdowns and opposed to a shutdown.

And the deadlock did not seem likely to ease.

“Tomorrow, the Senate will do exactly what we said we would do and reject these measures," Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, said Sunday. “At that point, Republicans will be faced with the same choice they have always faced: put the Senate's clean funding bill on the floor and let it pass with bipartisan votes, or force a Republican government shutdown.”

If a bill is not passed by midnight tonight, multiple government agencies and programs will shut down for the first time in 17 years forcing more than a million federal employees out of work for an indefinite period and many U.S. residents with major delays in social and public services.

The shutdown will not affect programs such as Medicare health insurance, Social Security retirement benefits for seniors, and mail delivery.

Paychecks for military service members will be delayed but military operations will continue as usual.

However, as Norman Solomon points out on Common Dreams Monday, the increasingly controversial National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, and their $10.8 billion annual budget will be largely exempt from the government shutdown.

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