News / USA

US Senate Begins Work to Fund Government as Threatened Shutdown Looms

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is seen on a television screen in the Senate Press Gallery during the tenth hour of his speech on the Senate floor in Washington, Sept. 25, 2013.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is seen on a television screen in the Senate Press Gallery during the tenth hour of his speech on the Senate floor in Washington, Sept. 25, 2013.
Michael Bowman
The U.S. Senate has voted unanimously to begin formal consideration of a bill to keep the federal government running beyond the end of the month. President Barack Obama’s signature health care law remains at the center of a partisan battle over funding, and time is running out for a politically divided Congress to pass a unified bill before a threatened shutdown begins October 1.

The Senate has started debate on a bill passed by the Republican-led House of Representatives last week that extends federal spending authority but defunds the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” The Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to restore Obamacare funding in coming days.

Majority Leader Harry Reid urged swift action. “We have a lot to do, and we should get there as quickly as we can. Every hour that we delay here is an hour closer to shutting down the government.”

The Senate acted after a marathon speech by Republican Senator Ted Cruz. For nearly 22 hours, Cruz urged colleagues to block funding of the law.

“Small businesses are crying out that Obamacare is killing them, and unfortunately the United States Senate is not hearing their cries. For the millions of Americans who are facing skyrocketing health insurance premiums and the reality or the risk of losing their health insurance, the United States Senate is not hearing their cry,” he said.

Major split

Cruz voted with all other senators to begin debate. The seeming contradiction of pursuing a stalling tactic while voting to advance the legislative process can be explained by the fact that Cruz is expected to oppose proceeding to a final vote on a spending bill days from now.

Cruz’ stamina and oratory did not impress Reid.

“It [Cruz’ speech] has been interesting to watch. But for lack of a better way of describing this, it has been a big waste of time,” said Reid.

And Cruz’ effort was rejected by some of his Republican colleagues. Senator John McCain said voters spoke on Obamacare last year. “They [voters] spoke much to my dismay, but they spoke. And they reelected the president of the United States,” he said.

Another Republican, Senator Dan Coats, said the fight to defund Obamacare is misguided.

“Shutting down the government will not stop Obamacare. We [Republicans] do not have the votes to defeat it.”

Democrats were happy to join in the criticism, among them Senator Charles Schumer, who said, “Debate Obamacare all you want. But please do not threaten to shut down the government because you cannot get your way.”

The Senate is expected to pass a funding bill by Sunday - one day before federal spending authority expires. Then, focus will shift back to the House of Representatives, where many Republicans remain committed to defunding Obamacare. A limited government shutdown will be averted only if both houses pass an identical spending bill.

The White House continues to defend Obamacare. Spokesman Jay Carney hailed a report showing that Americans in many states will have multiple low-cost health insurance plans to choose from when major components of the law are implemented next month.

You May Like

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs