Party divides seem to be hurtling the country into a government shutdown, as House Republicans announced a new spending bill plan Saturday that would delay Obamacare by a year and repeal the law's medical-device tax — a move that will almost certainly be rejected by the Democrat-controlled Senate.
"We will do our job and send this bill over, and then it's up to the Senate to pass it and stop a government shutdown," House GOP leaders told reporters in a joint statement Saturday.
The funding bill is expected to head back to the Senate Saturday evening, after a House vote at 5 p.m. today. But the proposal's chances of success in the Senate are close to nil — in spite of the fact that failure to pass the measure would mean a federal government shutdown, the first in 17 years.
“By pandering to the Tea Party minority and trying to delay the benefits of health care reform for millions of seniors and families, House Republicans are now actively pushing for a completely unnecessary government shutdown,” said Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
President Obama has also said he would veto any bill that de-funds Obamacare, if it does somehow manage to pass the Senate.
“We are not discussing extensions. The only way out of this is for the House to pass our clean CR,” another senior Senate Democratic aide said.
Following a Pentagon announcement late Friday warning that the U.S. military would be placed on unpaid leave in the event of a shut-down, the House announced it would also vote on a measure that will ensure the U.S.'s 1.4 million troops will continue to get paid, even if the government closes.
Earlier this month, the House chose to link government funding with removing Obamacare; on Friday, the Senate passed a bill that reinserted funding for the Affordable Care Act, throwing the proposal back at the House— in spite of efforts by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz to block the measure.
Cruz (whose 21-hour-speech on the Senate floor last week reminded certain people of Miley Cyrus) drew criticism Saturday, after he admitted that, not only had he not really considered what a government shutdown would do to his salary (nothing), he would have absolutely "no intention" of giving up his paycheck if the federal government did close down.
Although a government shutdown wouldn't affect congressmen, it would mean that museums, public buildings and parks would close, as well as a halt in major government operations — essentially creating a temporary crisis in the economy. Obama pushed the point again in his weekly address Saturday, saying: "A group of far-right Republicans in Congress might choose to shut down the government and potentially damage the economy just because they don't like this law." But no matter how often the President repeats himself, legislators seem unwilling to listen — and time is almost up.