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GOVERNMENT “SHUTDOWN” LOOMING?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 29, 2013) — In a late-night session which stretched into Sunday morning, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure which would delay the implementation of the individual mandate in the health care bill known as Obamacare for one year.
An initial proposal to defund Obamacare completely was linked to an appropriations bill which constitutionally must be approved by Monday at midnight to keep all government departments open. Like all bills, it would require approval by the U.S. Senate. On Friday, the Senate removed the portion of the bill which defunded Obamacare and sent it back to the House.
Without concurrence on an appropriations bill before the deadline, certain government functions will cease, including national parks, federally-operated museums and National Institutes of Health (NIH) research. Courts and other government entities have enough funds set aside to function from between ten and 30 days without congressional appropriations. The U.S. Postal Service will remain open, but the White House’s staff of more than 1,700 would be significantly affected, leaving, according to Bloomberg, a “skeleton staff.”
Obama “will have fewer people to cook meals, do the laundry, clean the floors or change the light bulbs, according to a White House contingency plan,” Bloomberg reported.
The House also voted with no dissenters to pay the military if a shutdown occurs. The removal of an unpopular medical device tax contained in Obamacare was also approved early on Sunday. Reid termed the repeal of the tax “stupid” and said the Senate will reject it.
Government “shutdowns” have occurred before, with the last two taking place during fiscal year 1996 under President Bill Clinton. Previous fears of a shutdown during Obama’s first term were expressed, but a “compromise” was reached each time.
If there is no funding agreement on government spending, many federal employees would report to work in order to secure information, files, and computers before being told to return home.
On Friday, Obama complained that Republicans were “threatening to burn the house down simply because you haven’t gotten a hundred percent of your way. That’s not how our democracy’s supposed to work.” He has himself said that he will not compromise on Obamacare, making reference to his own perceived ability to “gut or repeal the Affordable Care Act.”
The chief executive of the United States is not constitutionally authorized to “gut” or “repeal” any bill which has been passed by the Congress, nor can he alter it. However, Obama has personally met with union members unhappy with the bill’s impact on them in an attempt to assuage their anger; granted exemptions to certain companies; announced a delay in online registration for small businesses “after months of assurances that the government would meet the deadline” and a separate delay in imposing the employer mandate on companies with 50 or more employees in July.
The Senate is out of session today, which leaves one day until the expected shutdown.
At 12:18 a.m., Rep. Ann Wagner tweeted, “House votes to avert government shutdown and delay Obamacare a year…Senate adjourns until Monday.”
On Sunday, Speaker of the House John Boehner urged the Senate to begin deliberating the House bill immediately to avoid the government shutdown.
This post has been updated.