News / USA

Congress Appears Set to Trigger US Government Shutdown in Hours

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,walks to a Senate Democratic caucus to discuss the ongoing budget fight, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,walks to a Senate Democratic caucus to discuss the ongoing budget fight, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Cindy Saine
The United States appears to be on the verge of a partial government shutdown, unless the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House can agree on a last-minute measure to extend federal funding authority past midnight.  The Senate again rejected a House measure that ties the funding bill to a measure to delay implementation of President Barack Obama's signature health care law.  

In the latest steps in a bitter budget battle, the U.S. Senate killed the funding measure sent over by the House, as Senate Majority Harry Reid had warned it would, because of the amendments pushed by House Republicans that seek to derail the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Leader Reid issued a plea to House Speaker John Boehner to let the House vote on a straightforward, clean measure to just keep the government running.

"Without being too dramatic about this, the fate of the country depends on the House being able to vote, the House, all members of the House of Representatives. I hope that John Boehner makes a responsible decision, one that is good for the country," said Reid.

House Republicans huddled in the basement to plan their strategy, and came out announcing that they once again will vote on another spending bill that would delay parts of the heath care law.  House Speaker Boehner told reporters Republicans are holding firm to their insistence on slowing down Obamacare.

"We believe that everyone should be treated fairly. So we’re going to move here in the next several hours to take the Senate bill, add to it a one-year delay of the individual mandate on the American people... and get rid of the exemption for members of Congress. It’s a matter of fairness for all Americans," said Boehner.

The latest House bill calls for a one-year delay in the requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance, or face a fine, known as the individual mandate.  It also would cancel health insurance subsidies for members of Congress and their staff, the president and administration appointees.

The health care law, backed by Democrats, would provide financial assistance to those unable to purchase the insurance.  Democrats point out that the law was passed more than three years ago, and that President Obama was re-elected even though his opponent ran on a platform of repealing Obamacare.  They also say it will allow millions of Americans to purchase health care for the first time.

A core group of conservative Republicans is staunchly opposed to the the health care law, saying it will hurt the economy and interfere in Americans' private decisions.  President Obama spoke to the country late Monday, saying he is always willing to work with Republicans, but he called on those House Republicans to give in.

"But one faction of one party, in one house of Congress, in one branch of government, does not get to shut down the government just to re-fight the results of an election," said President Obama.

Analyst Larry Sabato said the budget brinksmanship is a contrived crisis that makes America look silly.

"The United States looks as though it cannot run its own government, that basic functions of government cannot continue under the current political alignment.  It certainly undermines trust and faith in the United States, and it could get worse with raising the debt limit," said Sabato.

This drama may be the prelude to another one on raising the debt ceiling, which the U.S. Treasury says needs to happen by October 17.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
September 30, 2013 5:41 PM
Two issues are potentially in need of improvement on the Obamacare program, one is that the lowest plan should cover a much greater percentage of the costs, potentially 85% or even higher. The other serious drawback, is that just as there are low income individuals, recognition needs to be given to the fact that there are/must be low net income businesses, and they too should get help with covering their workforce, so that they do not end up doing all kinds of gymnastics to attempt shedding the healthcare costs, or even closing down. Living in a country that covers all individuals, it is a tremendous help, benefit, and one less issue that the individual citizen needs to worry about in his or her daily life.

by: Chris
September 30, 2013 5:30 PM
Harry Reid????

by: Ramnarayan from: Florida, USA
September 30, 2013 4:41 PM
The Senate and the congress continue to play this game every few months. Does not seem to matter how it affects all of us, our economy and for that matter the rest of the world's economy which is tied to ours. Is it just an anti Obama feeling that the tea party and the rest of the republicans cant get over? The healthcare act was approved by the US supreme court, the election mandate, what do the republicans want? Cant they think of the chain reaction this sets every few months? Can't help but wonder who elected these idiots? The bottom line which is sad is that none of the republicans seem to care about the average people. Unless of course it has something to do with national security. What a sham these elected representatives are inflicting on the country. People who re elect them should think again when the time comes. The Tea party is set to ruin the Country.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
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 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 Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
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 Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
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 Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
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.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs