October 5, 2013

Quick end to shutdown seems unlikely

Some Republicans shift their demands from ending ‘Obamacare’ to cuts in benefit programs, but Democrats say Republicans still must re-open the government before any negotations take place.

By David Espo
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Protesters hold signs during an event with the Democratic Progressive Caucus and furloughed federal employees on Capitol Hill in Washington on Friday as the budget battle continued.

The Associated Press

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House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to a Republican strategy session on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. Boehner is struggling between Democrats that control the Senate and GOP conservatives in his caucus who insist any funding legislation must also kill or delay the nation's new health care law. Added pressure came from President Barack Obama who pointedly blamed Boehner on Thursday for keeping federal agencies closed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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Republican officials said that in a closed-door session with the rank and file during the day, the speaker renewed his long-standing commitment to seeking reforms and savings from benefit programs to help reduce federal deficits. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss a private meeting.

At the White House, Obama has said repeatedly he will not negotiate over the terms of debt limit legislation but is willing to discuss a range of issues once the government is reopened and the Treasury able to borrow freely again.

The shutdown began Monday at midnight after Republicans demanded the defunding of the nation’s new health insurance system in exchange for providing essential federal funding, and the White House and Democrats refused. Boehner and the House followed up with several other measures to reopen the government, all of them with other health-care-related conditions attached, and each subsequently rejected by Democrats.

Emerging from their closed-door meeting during the day, several Republicans conceded they are unlikely to achieve that goal as long as Obama is in the White House.

“It’s time to move to fixing the financial problems of this country,” said Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y.

Ironically, Boehner and the leadership more than two weeks ago outlined a strategy that envisioned avoiding a shutdown and instead using the debt limit bill as the arena for a showdown with Obama. Their hope was to win concessions from the White House in exchange for raising the debt limit and agreeing to changes in two rounds of across the board cuts, one that took place in the budget year that ended on Sept. 30 and the other in the 12 months that began the following day.

The strategy was foiled by a “Defund Obamacare” movement that Cruz, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and tea party groups generated over the summer.

Despite the discord, there was unity on one front. One day after a car chase ended in gunfire outside the Capitol, lawmakers in both parties wore lapel buttons that read: “Thank You Capitol Police.”

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Tea party supporter Greg Cummings of Cincinnati, Ohio, watches a rally with the Democratic Progressive Caucus and furloughed federal employees against House Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington on Friday. Cummings attended the rally to blame Senate Democrats for the government shutdown.

The Associated Press

  


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