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Government shutdown looms

BY JULIA DAVIS | SEPTEMBER 30, 2013 5:00 AM

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As the Sept. 30 deadline to pass a new budgetary measure looms on Capitol Hill, House Republicans show no sign of slowing down their efforts to delay passage of the bill, unless it includes plans to defund President Obama’s health-care law.

If a new government budget is not passed by midnight Monday, the government will go into a shutdown for the first time in 17 years.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a budget bill early Sunday morning that included legislation postponing key portions of the Affordable Care Act for one year and permanently repealed the medical device tax portion from the act.

Even before the House voted, Senate Democrats pledged to reject the measure, and the White House issued a statement vowing a veto.

Now, it is up to the Senate to come to a consensus regarding the bill before midnight. Despite the pressing deadline, the Senate will not meet until late afternoon today, just a mere 10 hours before a shutdown would begin.

“At a time when Washington should be working on a bipartisan basis to create jobs and boost the economy, Congress is dark as the clock ticks down to an unnecessary and reckless shutdown,” said Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, in a letter to congressional leaders.

In terms of how the possible shutdown will affect Iowans, University of Iowa Associate Professor of political science Timothy Hagle said it is all about how long it takes Congress to come to a solution.

“Right away, if the shutdown only lasts for a couple of days, most people probably won’t see much in the way of effects, but the longer it goes on, the greater the effects will be,” he said. “It’s not rocket science to figure that out, but it’s a matter of whether the two chambers in Congress can come together to find enough common ground to get some sort of temporary solution.”

The heart of the divide in Congress is over the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans are adamant about delaying.

“The real issue here is the Affordable Care Act, which is unpopular with a massive majority of Iowans, and people in the country, so for the various players to refuse to consider alternatives or negotiations over that, I think is irresponsible,” said Rep. Chip Baltimore, R-Boone.

Given the expressed extent to which many Republicans are against the health care law compromise may be hard to come by before the deadline.

“President Obama and Senate Democrats now have a choice: act responsibly to prevent a government shutdown and delay the implementation of Obamacare for one year or shut the government down in an effort to save their disastrous health-care law,” said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, in a Sep. 28 press release.

Democrats have expressed equal resolve on maintaining the Affordable Care Act funding.

“The government shutdown bill passed by the House tonight is reckless and irresponsible and is a threat to job creation and our economic recovery,” Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, said in a statement.

“It puts the United States on the verge of a government shutdown, jeopardizing critical functions like the processing of Social Security and veterans’ benefits.”

Loebsack said in a statement Iowans will feel the effects of a government shutdown in many facets of everyday life, from public workers being furloughed to medical research being pushed back.

Sen. Mark Chelgren, R-Ottomwa, expressed frustration at the fact that the government can’t seem to budget its funds properly in order to avoid situations like the current one in Washington.

“The United States government brings in a tremendous amount of money,” he said. “It is absolutely a farce to think that we can’t afford to spend money on priorities and get those bills paid.”


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