Within the fractured Republican Party there is not yet to be a consensus on a position for the two stage financial crisis we currently find ourselves. The looming deadlines of this Monday, September 30th, and October 17th debt-ceiling are beginning to weigh heavily as this weekend continues to tick by. While Republicans seem set, especially those from the far right Tea Party, to destroy the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at any cost, there seems to be a deepening rift between moderate Republicans and the extreme right. The very least that the far right seems prepared to accept for a resolution is an Obamacare delay of one year, a stance that the House GOP is trying to rally behind.
The House handed the Senate a Continuing Resolution (CR) that continued to finance the government until Dec. 15th at the coast of completely defunding the Affordable Care Act. Even though the Republican dominated House knew that it was unlikely to be accepted by the Democratically controlled Senate, it was the first proposal sent.
The Senate changed the CR sent by the House to fund the Affordable Care Act and the government until Nov. 15. This was just as Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said would happen, calling any attempt to delay or defund the Affordable Care Act as completely unacceptable.
Now the CR has been sent back to the House to try and find a resolution. The Senate has taken the weekend off, which means that if a resolution is going to be found before the government shut down is forced Monday night, it would require a united Senate. This seems unlikely with senators like Ted Cruz (R-TX) promising to take every procedural measure possible to make sure that “Obamacare” is defunded or delayed.
Now the House has to decide what to do with the CR handed back by the Senate. This is where the division between the Republican House members is coming to a head.
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) has said, “I’ve been very clear, I do not support shutting the government down. I do not support default — under any circumstances.”
While at the same time you have Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) saying, “The federal government has shut down 17 time before, sometimes when the Democrats were in control, sometimes with divided government.” Which seems to highlight how the far right Republicans feel about a government shut down, i.e. it doesn’t mean anything to them.
It seems to be a hard stance that the House GOP is taking, scrambling to find compromise among hardline Republicans that are refusing any compromise what-so-ever. Which seems to indicate, at this point, that a government shut down is going to be inevitable. An event which we have not had since 1995, over a disagreement with tax cuts between President Bill Clinton and Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich (R-GA).
What is a government shut down going to mean?
USA Today has estimated that some 41 percent of the 2 million federal employees, those not a part of defense, will be furloughed (given temporary unpaid leave) until a spending bill can be passed.
This will not affect those departments which are independently financed, such as the United States Postal Service. Which means that if, or when, there is a government shut down, it will not affect the mail service at all.
There are some workers, such as firefighters and air traffic controllers, which are contracted by the National Forestry Service, that would continue to work. However, researchers and park rangers will be furloughed, which will mean all federal wildlife refuges, as well as National Park sites, will be closed throughout the course of a government shut down.
While some 1.4 million active-duty military personal and active National Guard must remain on the job, they will not be paid during the course of the government shut down. While, at the same time, many civilian employees will face being furloughed whom work in the Department of Defense.
Additional disruptions: delays in issuing permits and applications, such as passports, green cards, gun permits, and mortgages. There could also be delays in US bankruptcy court cases as well.
President Obama spoke about the situation in his weekly address on Saturday, saying, “Republicans in the House have been more concerned with appeasing an extreme faction of their party than working to pass a budget that creates new jobs or strengthens the middle class. And in the next couple days, these Republicans will have to decide whether to join the Senate and keep the government open, or create a crisis that will hurt people for the sole purpose of advancing their ideological agenda.”
Regardless, it seems that the House Republicans are taking a “doomed to failure” stance with adding a delay of the Affordable Care Act of one year, along with a permanent repeal of the tax on certain medical devices in order to help pay for the Affordable Care Act.
Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate Majority Leader, has said, in a statement released today, that if the House GOP attempts to delay the Affordable Care Act and repeal the medical tax, it would indeed be rejected by the Senate.
“After weeks of futile political games from Republicans, we are still at square one: Republicans must decide whether to pass the Senate’s clean CR, or force a Republican government shutdown,” read Reid’s statement.
Depending on how the House rules, and what it passes, we could see a government shut down as early as next week. While the House is in session today, as of 3:15 EST they are in recess and the only items brought up for discussion and debate have been H.R. 3204 and H.R. 2848.
H.R. 3204 deals with the “Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to human drug compounding and drug supply chain security.” Which was passed after discussion, with only one speaker asking not to pass the bill because it was not clear enough for FDA enforcement.
H.R. 2848 is a bill to “authorize appropriation for the Department of State for fiscal year 2014.” The debate roiled on for measures to make more secure our embassies around the world, but the motion to vote was postposed before the recess was called.
On the eve of possible government shut down, the House has still not called up the CR from the Senate in order to continue discussion of the budget. Although, at this point, it seems most likely that the House GOP will call for a delay of the Affordable Care Act in order to pass a budget and keep the government running. In that case, the debate in the Senate come Monday may prove too challenging to pass an agreed upon plan. Thus, we are left with the House GOP considering its options and no decision, as of yet, to what may happen.
Written by: Iam Bloom