Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Shutdown will have 'very real impact'

U.S. government's first in 17 years

  • Print
Barack Obama pauses before speaking at the White House as he tries to ramp up pressure on Republicans to avoid a post-midnight government shutdown.

SUSAN WALSH / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge Image

Barack Obama pauses before speaking at the White House as he tries to ramp up pressure on Republicans to avoid a post-midnight government shutdown.

WASHINGTON -- For the first time in nearly two decades, the federal government staggered into a partial shutdown Monday at midnight after congressional Republicans stubbornly demanded changes in the nation's health care law as the price for essential federal funding and U.S. President Barack Obama and Democrats refused.

As Congress gridlocked, Obama said a "shutdown will have a very real economic impact on real people, right away," with hundreds of thousands of federal workers furloughed and veterans' centres, national parks, most of the space agency and other government operations shuttered.

He laid the blame at the feet of House Republicans, whom he accused of seeking to tie government funding to ideological demands, "all to save face after making some impossible promises to the extreme right wing of their party."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, responded a short while later on the House floor. "The American people don't want a shutdown and neither do I," he said. Yet, he added, the new health care law "is having a devastating impact. ... Something has to be done."

The stock market dropped on fears that political deadlock between the White House and a tea party-heavy Republican Party would prevail, though analysts suggested significant damage to the national economy was unlikely unless a shutdown lasted more than a few days.

'You don't get to extract a ransom for doing your job, for what you're supposed to be doing anyway, or just because there's a law there that you don't like'

-- U.S. President Barack Obama

A few minutes before midnight, Budget Director Sylvia Burwell issued a directive to federal agencies to "execute plans for an orderly shutdown." While an estimated 800,000 federal workers faced furloughs, some critical parts of the government -- from the military to air traffic controllers -- would remain open.

Any interruption in federal funding would send divided government into territory unexplored in nearly two decades. Then, Republicans suffered grievous political damage and President Bill Clinton benefitted from twin shutdowns. Now, some Republicans fear a similar outcome.

If nothing else, some Republicans also conceded it was impossible to use funding legislation to squeeze concessions from the White House on health care. "We can't win," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

"We're on the brink," Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Md., said shortly after midday as the two houses manoeuvred for political advantage and the Obama administration's budget office prepared for a partial shutdown, the first since the winter of 1995-1996.

On a long day and night in the Capitol, the Senate torpedoed one GOP attempt to tie government financing to changes in "Obamacare." House Republicans countered with a second despite unmistakable signs their unity was fraying -- and Senate Democrats promptly rejected it, as well.

Defiant still, House Republicans decided to re-pass their earlier measure and simultaneously request negotiations with the Senate on a compromise. Some aides conceded the move was largely designed to make sure that the formal paperwork was on the Senate's doorstep as the day ended.

Whatever its intent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., rejected it. "That closes government. They want to close government," he said of House Republicans.

As lawmakers squabbled, Obama spoke bluntly about House Republicans. "You don't get to extract a ransom for doing your job, for doing what you're supposed to be doing anyway, or just because there's a law there that you don't like," he said. Speaking of the health care law that undergoes a major expansion on Tuesday, he said emphatically, "That funding is already in place. You can't shut it down."

Some Republicans balked, moderates and conservatives alike.

Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia said it felt as if Republicans were retreating, given their diminishing demands, and Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia said there was not unanimity when the rank and file met to discuss a next move.

Yet for the first time since the showdown began more than a week ago, there was also public dissent from the Republican strategy that has been carried out at the insistence of lawmakers working in tandem with GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Rep. Charles Dent, R-Pa., said he was willing to vote for stand-alone legislation that would keep the government running and contained no health care-related provisions. "I would be supportive of it, and I believe the votes are there in the House to pass it at that point," the fifth-term congressman said.

Other Republicans sought to blame Democrats for any shutdown, but Dent conceded that Republicans would bear the blame, whether or not they deserved it.

Hours before the possible shutdown, the Senate voted 54-46 to reject the House-passed measure that would have kept the government open but would have delayed implementation of the health care law for a year and permanently repealed a medical device tax that helps finance it.

In response, House Republicans sought different concessions in exchange for allowing the government to remain open. They called for a one-year delay in a requirement in the health care law for individuals to purchase coverage. The same measure also would require members of Congress and their aides as well as the president, vice-president and the administration's political appointees to bear the full cost of their own coverage by barring the government from making the customary employer contribution. "This is a matter of funding the government and providing fairness to the American people," said Boehner. "Why wouldn't members of Congress vote for it?"

The vote was 228-201, with a dozen Republicans opposed and nine Democrats in favour.

Unimpressed, Senate Democrats swatted it on a 54-46 party line vote about an hour later6

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 1, 2013 A10

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart: Choose Yourself

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A squirrel enjoys the morning sunshine next to the duck pond in Assiniboine Park Wednesday– June 27, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Gardening Column- Assiniboine Park English Garden. July 19, 2002.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What's your favourite Halloween treat to hand out?

View Results

Ads by Google