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Sen. Hatch expects government shutdown at midnight

Published: Monday, Sept. 30 2013 4:44 p.m. MDT

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, center, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., right, speak with reporters after a GOP strategy session at the Capitol, in Washington, Tuesday, July 30, 2013.  (J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press) Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, center, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., right, speak with reporters after a GOP strategy session at the Capitol, in Washington, Tuesday, July 30, 2013. (J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — A government shutdown looms Monday as congressional Republicans, including Utah's three GOP representatives, continue to push to delay Obamacare.

"I think the odds are pretty strong that it's going happen, at least for three or five days," Sen. Orrin Hatch said.

"I haven't heard any action the Senate intends to take so far," he said on KSL Newsradio's "Doug Wright Show." "We still have time left, but President Obama and Harry Reid seem intent on shutting down the government and blaming Republicans."

Hatch said he doesn't think the Senate is serious about voting on the funding resolution at all, which would lead to the government shutdown at midnight.

"It's frustrating because the United States Senate needs to act," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz. "I don't understand, given the peril of midnight, how they're just going to saunter in later today."

The House late Saturday passed two amendments to legislation that will keep the government running for the next three months. One repeals the medical device tax, while the other delays the Affordable Care Act for a year.

"I think the Republicans in the House are listening to the American people," Hatch said. "They're acting responsibly."

The Senate isn't scheduled to convene until this afternoon, and is expected to reject the House bill.

"(Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid said he's not going to accept anything that the House does," Hatch said.

Hatch said Reid and Obama refuse to negotiate delaying Obamacare or repealing the medical devices tax.

"This is the worse I've ever seen it in the Congress," he said.

Sen. Mike Lee, one of the most ardent opponents of Obamacare, said the Senate should at least pass a House measure that ensures get paid in the event of a shutdown.

“Sen. Reid shouldn’t be allowed to negotiate by threatening to withhold payments to our military members. The current fight in Washington is about whether or not Congress will act to protect the American people from Obamacare. Our differences on that issue should not put at risk payments to our military," Lee said.

Rep. Jim Matheson, Utah's lone congressional Democrat, said he's not happy with leaders of either party. The most important thing is to keep government operating, he said.

"I hope people get their head in the game and focus on what needs to be done," he said.

Chaffetz said Senate Democrats intend to "jam" the House by not voting on a bill until late Monday, giving the House little time to react.

Rep. Chris Stewart called delaying Obamacare a reasonable compromise, but the Senate isn't going for it.

"If they were interested in doing that, they would be in session right now and they're not," he said. "I think that the Democratic Senate has wanted a shutdown for a long time."

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