Democrats, Republicans expect to avert shutdown of US gov't
By Thomas Ferraro, ReutersWASHINGTON--Key Democrats and Republicans said on Sunday that they expect a bitterly divided Congress to somehow come together and avert a U.S. government shutdown in eight days.
September 24, 2013, 12:17 am TWN
But it remained unclear how they would do it and, more importantly, who will blink over Republican demands to defund President Barack Obama's landmark overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system, commonly known as Obamacare.
“We all know that the government is going to be funded. The question is, whether it will be funded with Obamacare or without,” Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah, a favorite of the anti-government Tea Party and a leader of the drive to deny funds to the new healthcare program, said on NBC's “Meet the Press” show.
Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, also appearing on the NBC program, said that she, too, expects the government to remain open beyond Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.
“I believe in the end people of goodwill will come together and do the right thing and, stop this (Republican) political brinkmanship” that risks a shutdown, Klobuchar said.
Public opinion polls show most Americans unhappy with Obamacare. But surveys also show most Americans opposed to a government shutdown, which would disrupt federal services and deal a blow to the U.S. economy.
The Republican-led House of Representatives last week defied a White House veto threat and passed a bill to keep the government running, but only if Obamacare is defunded.
That bill is now before the Senate, where Democrats that control the chamber vow to remove the provision to defund Obamacare this week and return the measure to the House to sign off on it. It would then by up to House Speaker John Boehner and his Republicans to decide what to do — with time running short.
House Republicans could approve the Senate-passed bill, clearing the way for Obama to sign it into law, or reject it, triggering a shutdown.
Attaching New Conditions
Another option in the House would be for Republicans to attach new conditions to the bill, such as a possible delay in implementation of Obamacare, and send it back to the Senate for its concurrence.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a potential 2016 White House contender, reiterated his support for the effort to defund Obamacare being pushed by the Tea Party movement.
Cruz said he plans to try to raise procedural roadblocks to prevent Democrats from eliminating the defunding provision in the House-passed bill.