Federal government shutdown: Haven’t we seen this movie before?
This week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made clear that he would move ahead with legislation that could once again bring the United States to the brink of a federal government shutdown.
The bill will probably be approved with a majority of House Republicans voting in favor and Democrats in opposition.
The fact that the Republican caucus in the lower chamber is making unreasonable demands in exchange for funding the government is nothing new. It happened two years ago.
The 2011 government funding battle resulted in an agreement to reduce federal spending by $38 billion.
How will this latest congressional battle turn out? We’ll know in about two weeks.
The government shutdown and Obamacare
What’s different about “Washington Budget Wars, The Sequel” is that this time around Republicans are tying the funding of the federal government to the defunding of Obamacare.
The GOP-controlled House voted Friday to cripple President Barack Obama’s health care law as part of a risky ploy that threatens a government shutdown in a week and a half, reports AP.
The fight is coming on a stopgap funding measure required to keep the government fully running after the Oct. 1 start of the new budget year.
Typically, such measures advance with sweeping bipartisan support, but tea party activists forced GOP leaders — against their better judgment — to add a provision to cripple the health care law that’s the signature accomplishment of Obama’s first term.
Obamacare, is the healthcare reform law formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It was approved by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in 2010.
The Supreme Court upheld most of the legislation in June 2012. It ultimately expands access to healthcare services for approximately 30 million Americans.
Speaker Boehner and other prominent conservatives like Karl Rove – the “architect” of President George W. Bush’s victorious campaigns – have argued against threatening a government shutdown in an effort to remove funds from the healthcare law.
Rove even submitted an op-ed to The Wall Street Journal urging the GOP not to proceed down this path. Rove’s piece should be required reading for all Republicans.
Even 2012 GOP Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney warned congressional Republicans against this.
The one problem with the House Republican approach: It won’t succeed.
The consequences of a government shutdown
Democrats hold more seats in the Senate and Majority Leader Harry Reid will undoubtedly remove any defunding of Obamacare from his chambers legislation.
Then we’ll be back at square one with the Senate and House at odds. Someone or something has to break the stalemate in a divided government.
But what could happen with a federal government shutdown?
Social Security and Medicare payments could be delayed because employees of these federal agencies may be furloughed.
Millions of Latino Americans depend on these programs. Our active duty military – 11 percent of which is made up of Hispanics – could face longer waits to receive payment.
Veterans could experience delays in receiving healthcare and other services. National parks will be closed, which could result in loss of tourism dollars. Passport applications may be delayed. And for all you frequent international travelers, be prepared for longer lines at customs when re-entering the U.S.
Those are just the domestic concerns. Economies throughout the globe will undoubtedly suffer if the world’s largest economy is in crisis.
And all this talk of a government shutdown seemed to be controlled earlier this year. Before Rove and Romney publicly pleaded with the GOP not to go down this path, senior Republican leaders in the Senate had been saying the same thing.
But none of that is relevant to Texas Senator Ted Cruz. The Republican has been the driver of the “Defund Obamacare At All Costs Train” throughout the summer.
Cruz has indicated that he is willing to do anything – filibuster, push for a shutdown – in order to make sure that a constitutionally sound law is not implemented. Call it a “goal line stand” for the Tea Party.
But it’s both sad and ironic that Mr. Cruz is leading this charge against the Affordable Care Act given that his state, according to the Austin Business Journal, has the highest number of uninsured residents.
It’s even sadder that Senator Cruz is willing to risk a federal government shutdown that would hurt our senior citizens, veterans and poverty stricken Americans. But we are where we are and the only way to avert a shutdown rests on the shoulders of congressional leaders.
Get to work, people.