News / USA

In Shutdown, House Speaker is Man in the Middle

In Shutdown, House Speaker is Man in the Middlei
X
October 09, 2013 7:59 PM
As the partial shutdown of the U.S. government pushes into its second week, the spotlight continues to find itself focused on House Speaker John Boehner. The leading voice of Republicans in the House of Representatives, it has been his job to engineer a political victory for his party on health care and the budget. But as VOA's Jeff Seldin reports from Washington, it has become a lonely road.
As the partial shutdown of the U.S. government pushes into its second week, the spotlight continues to find itself focused on House Speaker John Boehner.  The leading voice of Republicans in the House of Representatives, it has been his job to engineer a political victory for his party on health care and the budget.

House Speaker John Boehner has been angry...

"This isn't some damn game..."

He's been conciliatory.

"I'm not drawing any lines in the sand.  It's time for us to just sit down and resolve our differences," said Boehner.

And at times, even after a meeting at the White House with fellow Republicans, he's been a man alone, caught between party colleagues demanding a hard line on the president's health care plan...

"A one-year delay of that tax is more than fair given how poor the roll-out of Obamacare has been," said Cantor.

...and other members of his party who think forcing a government shutdown was the wrong way to go.

Reporter: "Sir, is this strategy working for the Republicans?

Republican Pete King: "It depends on how you look at it. Not from my perspective."

The political divide is deep, with a group of about 80 Republican representatives insisting on nothing less than the repeal of the new U.S. health insurance program known as "Obamacare."  It's something rival Democrats and President Barack Obama have flatly ruled out.

Many of the same Republican lawmakers are also drawing a hard line on the country's debt, saying they will not raise the debt limit by the October 17 deadline, putting the U.S. at risk of a default.

And as the shutdown drags on, John Fortier at the Bipartisan Policy Center says it's the hardliners who still seem to be driving the debate.  

“They certainly have forced the speaker’s hand to make sure this is not a light confrontation, that we have a big airing of the differences," said Fortier.

That approach has played well with the voters in communities which elected the hard-liners in the first place.  Steve Billet, with the legislative affairs program at George Washington University, says that leaves Boehner with little leverage.

“No one in the Republican party in the House of Representatives fears John Boehner.  They are not going to do anything - vote with him, in response to his requests - because there’s nothing he can do to them," said Billet.

In the meantime, with every day that goes by there is also more heat ((criticism)) from President Barack Obama.

"Talks, negotiations shouldn't require hanging the threats of a government shutdown or economic chaos over the heads of the American people," said President Obama.

Jennifer Duffy at the Cook Political Report says someone is going to have to flinch.

“It makes it very hard to cut a deal when nobody’s at the table," said Duffy.

"All we're asking for is to sit down and have this conversation," said Boehner.

The latest plea in a political confrontation that has official Washington still going nowhere.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs