September 30th, 2013
03:43 PM ET
11 months ago

Shutting down debate

Washington (CNN) – Nobody wants to shut down. Not Democrats. Not Republicans. So why is just such an outcome becoming increasingly likely?

The answer is Obamacare. Republicans won't stand for it. Democrats won't stand without it, not after shooting down more than 40 efforts by Republicans to do so in the House of Representatives.

Democrats write off those efforts as repeated futility.

But the repetition also helps cement Republican frustration with the Affordable Care Act, a law they desperately want gone but have been unable to dismantle, their votes going nowhere in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Negotiation over Obamacare isn't impossible. But Democrats insist any negotiation take place after the government is funded and the bills are paid with a debt ceiling increase. President Barack Obama would clearly prefer these conversations were held much later, maybe even after the 2014 midterm elections, likely hoping for a friendlier Congress.

"The bottom line is that the Senate has passed a bill that keeps the government open, does not have a lot of extraneous issues to it," Obama said Monday. "That allows us to then negotiate a longer term budget and address a range of other issues, but ensures we are not shutting down the government."

Republicans are done waiting.

"This is our best opportunity and the most powerful leverage that we've got," Rep. John Culberson said on CNN's "Around the World." The Texas Republican said that he did not want a shutdown and argued that the House passed funding elements of the government, namely the military, months ago.

But Culberson, like other Republicans, are still pressing ahead.

"My constituents are adamantly opposed to this massive intrusion," into personal liberty, Culberson said of Obamacare.

"The right to be left alone as Americans is probably our most important right."

Regardless of political views on Obama's signature law, the political reality is that congressional Republicans need to be seen doing everything they can to dismantle it.

And after 40 votes, they see opportunity in the type of leverage presented by must-pass spending legislation and another measure coming up in coming weeks – a plan to increase the debt limit.

The clock is ticking to midnight and the Senate on Monday rejected another attempt by the House to derail Obamacare by linking it to the spending bill needed to avoid a shutdown.

It's unlikely Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-North Carolina, will accept the latest “clean” version of spending legislation approved by the Senate that is now back with the House.

"I don't want to give the government check book to Barack Obama. And that is exactly what will happen," Ellmers said Monday on CNN's "New Day."

"Obamacare will continue to get funded and he will be able to pick and choose what he wants to continue to fund," she said.

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats think they have already caved enough.

Republicans "have to learn how to take yes for an answer," said Rep. Steve Israel, D-New York.

Israel argued that Democrats have already met Republicans on the level of government funding requested.

There is room for compromise, Israel said, just not for catering to the "far-right" elements of the Republican party who he said have done anything but compromise.

Part of the problem perhaps is the definition of compromise.

Democrats don't see a delay of Obamacare as middle-ground but Republicans do.

"We have reached out halfway to them," Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, told CNN's Ashleigh Banfield.

Rohrabacher was joined by fellow GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who mirrored the sentiment.

"We have repeatedly sent options and possibilities to the Senate," the Tennessee Republican said of House votes aimed at Obamacare.

Blackburn said she wanted to "keep working to fix some of these programs that have very obvious substantiated problems and glitches like Obamacare,"

In turn, Democrats argue "fix" really means destroy. They're worried about what might happen if they give ground on Obamacare, any ground.

"The bottom line is very simple, you negotiate on this, they will up the ante on the debt ceiling and the full time [Continuing Resolution]," Sen. Chuck Schumer told CNN's Dana Bash. "You cannot negotiate when they take hostages, they extort."

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    10% of the GOP is TEAparty crazy
    Gold remains a refuge from disaster, they say, ... The television personality Glenn Beck advised his audience to stock up ...

    September 30, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
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