WASHINGTON. — With just hours to go before a midnight deadline to avert a federal government shut-down, the Democratic-controlled Senate yesterday was poised to reject a funding measure that would delay reforms promised in the 2010 healthcare overhaul.
Senior Senate Democratic aides said the chamber would take a simple majority vote shortly after 2pm that would strip Republican amendments and send a “clean” funding bill back to the House of Representatives.
The move tosses a political hot potato back to Republican House Speaker John Boehner, leaving him a choice of whether to accept it and keep government agencies funded or try another move to rein in President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.
The latter action would all but assure at least a brief shut-down, because the Senate would likely run out of time to respond before the October 1 start of the new fiscal year. Failure to reach an agreement to extend funding would force federal agencies and programs to close or partially close for the first time in 17 years.
Republicans are not backing down, Boehner said yesterday morning.
“The House has done its work,” he said on the House floor, referring to the bill passed by the House on Saturday that would continue funding the government while delaying the health law known as Obamacare for one year and repealing a tax on medical devices. He urged the Senate to pass this bill.
There were no sign of negotiations after a quiet Sunday marked by the two parties trying to pin blame on each other for a looming shut-down.
The recriminations continued early yesterday, as Republicans accused Obama of ignoring their pleas for negotiations.
“This president hasn’t been involved at all with the leadership or with the Congress,” Representative Matt Salmon, an Arizona Republican, told MNSBC’s “Morning Joe” programme, adding that Obama has not contacted Boehner in more than a week.
But he said Republicans would not give up their quest to thwart the implementation of Obamacare, a program aimed at providing healthcare coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. Republicans say the launch on Tuesday of new online government health insurance exchanges will cause premiums to rise and deter companies from hiring new workers.
Salmon, who was in Congress during the last shut-down from late 1995 to early 1996, said Republicans do not want to see a shut-down but would keep fighting against Obamacare with another proposal.
“We should go back at them,” he said. — Reuters.