US House moves federal govt closer to shutdown
Updated: 2013-09-29 10:41
The US House of Representatives remains fully lit during a rare late-night Saturday session at the US Capitol in Washington, September 28, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
MEDICAL DEVICE TAX
Neither side wants to be the last to cast the final vote that would lead to a shutdown, a concern that has turned the funding measure into a hot potato being tossed between the two chambers.
While polls consistently show the American public is tired of political showdowns and opposed to a shutdown, House conservatives were happy about the coming fight.
"This is a win-win all the way around," said Arizona Representative Matt Salmon, who described the mood of Republicans as "ecstatic."
Republicans said they would also approve a bill repealing a tax on medical devices that helps fund the healthcare law to the tune of about $30 billion. That provision, sought with heavy lobbying by the medical device industry, has been supported in the past by some Democratic senators.
Republicans said they would separately approve a bill to ensure members of the US military continued to be paid if government funding was cut off. If Democrats vote against that bill, Republicans are likely to accuse them of hurting US troops.
In a government shutdown, spending for functions considered essential, related to national security or public safety, would continue along with benefit programs such as Medicare health insurance and Social Security retirement benefits for seniors.
But civilian federal employees - from people who process forms and handle regulatory proceedings to workers at national parks and museums in Washington - would be temporarily out of work.
The last government shutdown ran from December 16, 1995 to January 6, 1996 and was the product of a budget battle between Democratic President Bill Clinton and Republicans, led by then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
Republicans suffered a public backlash when voters re-elected Clinton in a landslide the following November, a lesson never forgotten by senior Republicans, including Boehner.
This time, Boehner tried to avoid a showdown but was overruled by his rebellious caucus, largely influenced since the 2010 election by newcomers endorsed by the conservative Tea Party movement.
With Boehner effectively sidelined, rank-and-file Republicans boasted of their unity. Members chanted "vote, vote, vote, vote," in their closed-door meeting, they reported later.
Afterward, Democratic Representative Louise Slaughter of New York, took to the House floor to accuse Republicans of throwing a "temper tantrum" about "Obamacare" under pressure from "Tea Party extremists."