Government shuts down for the first time in 17 years
The federal government was forced to shut down for the first time in 17 years after House Republicans failed to take up a “clean” continuing resolution to fund the government for another 6 weeks while lawmakers meet in conference work out a longer-term budget agreement.
“One faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government shut down major parts of the government — all because they didn’t like one law,” said President Barack Obama. “This Republican shutdown did not have to happen. But I want every American to understand why it did happen. Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to fund the government unless we defunded or dismantled the Affordable Care Act. They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans. In other words, they demanded ransom just for doing their job.”
Late Monday night, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) asked all federal agencies to begin executing plans for “an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations.”
As of Tuesday morning, all non-essential government services are suspended and more than 800,000 federal workers are furloughed pending funding authorization by Congress.
The shutdown will not affect the disbursement of Social Security checks, Medicare reimbursements, and any government operations dealing with public safety or national security, such as Border Patrol, prison guards, and air traffic controllers. Hours before the shutdown, Congress passed and the President signed a bill that will continue to pay members of the military during the government shutdown.
“We urge Congress to act quickly to pass a Continuing Resolution to provide a short-term bridge that ensures sufficient time to pass a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year [2013-14], and to restore the operation of critical public services and programs that will be impacted by a lapse in appropriations,” wrote OMB Director Sylvia Burwell.
Obama said while the full economic impact of the shutdown unknown at this time, he pointed out that the 1996 shutdown did damage the economy.
“Unlike 1996, our economy is still recovering from the worst recession in generations,” said Obama. “We know that the longer this shutdown continues, the worse the effects will be. More families will be hurt. More businesses will be harmed.”
Boehner will not allow House to vote on a “clean” CR
At a press briefing Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner indicated that he will not allow the House to vote on a “clean” continuing resolutions without the House amendments to delay or de-fund Obamacare and repeal the Medical Device Tax. Even some Republicans, such as Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, have urged the House to vote on a CR without the amendments to keep the government open.
“The votes are there to pass a clean CR,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “It would pass by a large margin [in the House]. It would prevent a government shutdown.”
But Boehner refused to be budged. His decision to not bring up the clean CR to a vote on Monday night effectively forced a government shutdown even if the House passed an 11th hour bill to go to conference with the Senate to hammer out a budget deal.
The latest budget crisis began two weeks ago when House Republicans attached an amendment that would defund Obamacare to the continuing resolution to fund the federal government after Sept. 30th. [House Republicans have already tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act at least 40 times previous to the vote on Sept. 20th.]
Obama had made clear that he would veto any bill that de-funds, delays or dismantles the 2009 health care reform law, which was ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012.
Then over the weekend, House Republicans changed the CR amendments to delay the full implementation of Obamacare by a year, to repeal the Medical Device Tax (which would add $30 billion to the deficit over 10 years), and to allow employers to opt out of certain health coverage requirements [such as contraception or women’s preventive screenings] if they have “religious or moral objections”. The Senate again “tabled” or stripped out the House amendments and sent back a “clean” CR bill for consideration.
Democrats pointed out that they’ve already compromised by agreeing to a $986 billion budget – which keeps the across-the-board sequester cuts – to fund the federal government for another 6 weeks.
“Their $986 [billion] number takes more than a billion dollars from the National Institutes of Health, Meals on Wheels, kids on Head Start. It’s brutal. It’s brutal. But even for the sake of keeping the government open for 6 weeks, we’re willing to accept that,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). “We’re saying to them we’re willing to accept your number for the purpose of going to the table. Keep the government open and go to the table [for negotiation].”
Pelosi said that Boehner’s refusal to take up the Senate’s clean CR is non-sensical and that there is no reason why the two sides couldn’t negotiate the budget while keeping the government open.
“They’re saying, ‘We’re rejecting our own number because that shuts down the government and only then will we go to the table.'”, said Pelosi. “What they are doing is a luxury our country cannot afford – this anti-government ideology.”
- WhatTheFolly.com: Federal Budget 2013-14
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: President Barack Obama’s remarks on the government shutdown – Oct. 1, 2013
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Press briefing Q&A with House Democrats on government shutdown – Sept. 30, 2013
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Press briefing Q&A with Senate Democrats on the GOP’s CR to repeal women’s preventive care & government shutdown – Sept. 30, 2013
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Sen. Harry Reid’s remarks on the continuing resolution to avert government shutdown – Sept. 30, 2013
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: House Speaker John Boehner’s press briefing remarks on the government shutdown – Sept. 30, 2013
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: President Barack Obama’s remarks on the continuing resolution to fund the federal government after Sept. 30, 2013
- WhatTheFolly.com: Senate nixes House GOP amendments to delay Obamacare, sends back “clean” continuing resolution
- WhatTheFolly.com: House Republicans pass amendments to delay Obamacare for one year
- WhatTheFolly.com: House Republicans pass bill to de-fund Obamacare, setting up showdown on budget & debt limit
- WhatTheFolly.com: List of 228 House Republicans who voted for the CR to de-fund Obamacare
- WhatTheFolly.com: House Republicans threaten shutdown of federal government unless Obamacare is de-funded
- PennLive.com: Pennsylvania Republican lawmaker strikes moderate tone, urges House GOP to avoid federal shutdown
- Office of Management & Budget: Memo on the update on status of operations – Sept. 30, 2013 (PDF)
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