Government shutdown begins as Congress divides on spending

Medical Devices

“We can work out something, I believe, on the medical device tax,” Durbin said on CNN. “That’s one thing the Republicans wants to talk about; let’s sit down and put it on the table.”

The chances of a last-minute deal -- seen so often in past fiscal fights -- evaporated shortly before midnight as the House stood firm on its call to delay major parts of Obama’s health-care law for a year. Senate Democrats were equally firm in refusing to concede and planned a morning vote to reject the House’s call for formal talks.

“It is embarrassing that these people who were elected to represent the country are representing the Tea Party,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said after midnight. “This is an unnecessary blow to America.”

House Speaker John Boehner, speaking after 1 a.m. in Washington, called on Senate Democrats to come to the negotiating table.

“Let’s resolve our differences,” Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told reporters. “The House has voted to keep the government open, but we also want basic fairness for all Americans under Obamacare.”

No ‘Ransom’

Obama said yesterday he wouldn’t negotiate under the threat of a government shutdown or a default on the U.S. debt.

“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 you don’t like,” Obama said at the White House yesterday.

Abroad, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, whose Conservative Party is a traditional Republican ally, said the U.S. political crisis poses a threat to global growth.

“It is a risk to the world economy if the U.S. can’t properly sort out its spending plans,” Cameron told the BBC in Manchester today. In Korea, the finance ministry said it could make investors more risk averse and fuel capital outflows from emerging markets.

IRS, EPA

During the partial government shutdown, many essential government operations will cease. Internal Revenue Service call centers will close and more than 90% of Environmental Protection Agency workers will stay home. National parks and museums will be shuttered.

Other services will continue uninterrupted. Social Security and Medicare benefits will be paid. U.S. troops will remain at their posts around the world and will be paid under a bill Obama signed yesterday. Air-traffic controllers and airport security screeners will keep working.

The shutdown comes on the first day of enrollment in the exchanges mandated under the health-care law at the heart of the fight. Enrollment will continue today even as the government shuts down, because it’s paid for out of mandatory funding not affected by the lapse, U.S. officials said.

In the end, the final hours before the shutdown were marked by a combination of legislative procedure and partisan vitriol. House Republicans said they would appoint members to a committee meant to negotiate a compromise between the Republican and Democratic positions -- something several rounds of votes didn’t accomplish.

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