Once again, the U.S. government faces a potential shutdown driven by a politically-divided Congress unable to agree on federal funding. Later this week, the Senate is expected to pass a temporary spending measure incompatible with a House bill approved last week. Unless the two chambers pass identical bills, a limited government shutdown will begin October 1.
Friday, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives extended federal spending authority, but defunded President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers:
“The House has acted to keep the government open, to control spending, and to protect people from an unworkable law that is making it harder on them,” said McMorris Rodgers.
House Speaker John Boehner sounded triumphant.
“The American people do not want the government shutdown, and they do not want Obamacare. The House has listened to the American people. Now it is time for the Senate to listen to them, as well,” said Boehner.
The jubilant tone did not carry over to the Democratically-controlled Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid:
“Any bill that de-funds Obamacare is dead. Dead. It is a waste of time, as I have said before,” said Reid.
Democrats say they will only vote to authorize spending that includes funding for the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” which seeks to boost the number of Americans with healthcare insurance. Senator Charles Schumer:
“We will not blink [back down]. Do not get it into your heads that we will. We will not!”, said Schumer.
Democratic lawmakers have the full backing of President Obama, who has repeatedly blasted House Republicans and accused them of putting America's economic recovery at risk.
“They would actually plunge this country back into recession - all to deny the basic security of health care to millions of Americans. Well, that is not happening,” said the president.
If the Senate passes a bill funding Obamacare, focus would then shift back to the House - with mere days before the threatened government shutdown begins.