With no weekend talks, 1st U.S. shutdown in 17 years seen as unavoidable
A shutdown could reduce fourth-quarter economic growth by as much as 1.4 percentage points, depending on its duration, according to economists. The biggest effect would come from the output lost from furloughed workers.
A brief government shutdown won't lead to any significant change of the Treasury Department's forecast for when the U.S. will breach the debt limit, a Treasury spokeswoman said Sunday in an e-mail. The Treasury has said measures to avoid breaching the debt ceiling will be exhausted on Oct. 17.
The White House on Sunday released a photo of Obama meeting with his top staff, including Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell. A cabinet meeting was scheduled for today. While there was no public statement Sunday, Obama plans to make public statements this week calling on the Republicans to pass legislation he'll sign, according to a senior administration official who asked for anonymity.
The latest House plan, which passed after midnight yesterday, would authorize 10 weeks of spending starting Oct. 1 only if much of the Obama health law is delayed for a year.
The proposal opened the second round of volleys with the Senate. While House Republicans have moved slightly off their position, from defunding Obamacare to delaying most of its provisions, Democrats haven't budged in their support for the health law.
Texas Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D, for not calling the Senate into session Sunday to consider the latest House proposal.
"There's no reason the Senate should be home on vacation," Cruz, who last week spoke on the Senate floor for more than 21 hours to protest the health-care law, said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
The Senate can act quickly to pass legislation, if all 100 members agree. If a single member objects, it would block legislation from being passed for four days or more.
When the Senate amends the proposal, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will have four main choices, two of which avert a shutdown. He could pass the Senate bill with mostly Democratic votes or attempt a short-term funding extension to keep the government open past Oct. 1, when fiscal year 2014 begins.
The other two options lead to a shutdown. Boehner could add health-law provisions to the spending bill and ask the Senate to go along, which Senate Democratic leaders have said they'd reject, or do nothing and wait for the political fallout.
The U.S. has had 17 funding gaps from 1977 to 1996, based on a Congressional Research Service analysis. In 1995 and 1996, interruptions lasted from Nov. 14 to Nov. 19 and from Dec. 16 to Jan. 6, as Republicans led by House Speaker Newt Gingrich clashed over the budget with President Bill Clinton.
The latest House plan leaves intact some parts of the health-care law already in effect, such as requirements that insurers cover pre-existing conditions and that family plans cover children to age 26. The bill would let insurers deny abortion coverage based on religious or moral objections.
The House measure would delay a requirement for people to purchase coverage or face a penalty, and postpone the creation of marketplaces — which are supposed to start functioning Oct. 1 — where people could shop for coverage from private insurers. Further, it would repeal the 2.3 percent medical device tax, which would increase the U.S. deficit by about $29 billion during the next decade.
Republicans and Democrats began bracing for a shutdown by attempting to affix blame on the other side. It's at least the fourth time in the past three years that lawmakers have taken a budget battle to the brink of a fiscal crisis, each time averting the worst-case scenario just before or after the deadline.
"This has been the Congress of chronic chaos since Day One, and this is just another episode," said Rep. Israel, D-N.Y.
_ With assistance from Richard Rubin, Derek Wallbank, Caitlin Webber, Heidi Przybyla, Roger Runningen, Danielle Ivory and Kasia Klimasinska in Washington and Emma Oliver in London.
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