This week's government shutdown could be just a warmup for an even bigger budget battle in a couple of weeks.
Congress has to raise the limit on the amount of money the federal government is allowed to borrow by Oct. 17. If the debt ceiling is not raised on time, President Obama warns that Washington won't be able to keep paying its bills.
"It'd be far more dangerous than a government shutdown, as bad as a shutdown is," Obama said Tuesday. "It would be an economic shutdown."
Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 4:53 pm
If you're wondering how long the shutdown will last, well, don't hold your breath.
As of this writing, there are no indications that talks are underway — or even in the offing.
Indeed, the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected House legislation Tuesday morning calling for a House-Senate conference to try to settle the disagreement behind the first federal government shutdown in 17 years.
Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 12:08 pm
Update at 8:18 p.m. ET. Impasse:
As first day of a federal government shutdown came to a close, Congress was not any closer to a resolution.
Case in point: Republicans in the House proposed three bills that would have reopened national parks, the Department of Veteran's Affairs and kept the D.C. government afloat. But all three bills didn't even make it out of the House.
John Boehner might not have the worst job in politics, but not many people envy the House speaker these days.
The GOP rank and file won't listen to him, grass-roots conservatives don't trust him, and Democrats say he can't deliver votes.
For a man who occupies the most powerful position in the House, Boehner's inability — or, possibly, his unwillingness — to persuade his fellow House Republicans to accept a budget without delaying or blocking parts of the Affordable Care Act has resulted in the first government shutdown since 1996.
President Obama spoke with NPR in the Oval Office on Monday, as a visiting group of young people in suits got a tour of the Rose Garden outside the windows. The most striking part of our encounter in this moment of crisis was how familiar the atmosphere seemed.
President Obama says he's tired of the seemingly never-ending rounds of budget crises.
"When it comes to Congress paying its bills ... we cannot be a country that is lurching every two months or three months from crisis to crisis to crisis," Obama said in an interview Monday with NPR's Steve Inskeep.
Yet that is precisely the situation the president finds himself in.
Before parts of the government began shutting down, the House and Senate bounced a series of stopgap spending bills between the chambers. The House would insert language to delay or limit the president's health care law, and the Senate would reject the Obamacare language and send the bill back. The two chambers did not reach an agreement before the midnight deadline.
Only hours before a partial shutdown of the federal government would take effect, House Republicans still hadn't arrived at a temporary spending bill that Senate Democrats were willing to approve to keep government workers on the job. A closure appeared inevitable.
On Monday afternoon, Senate Democrats rejected a stopgap spending bill passed by the House over the weekend because it contained anti-Obamacare measures that Democrats found objectionable.
Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 3:00 pm
Audie Cornish talks with Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep about his interview Monday afternoon with President Obama. We hear excerpts from the interview, more of which will air Tuesday on Morning Edition.
And on Capitol Hill, words of anger and frustration today over the increasing likelihood of a government shutdown. This morning in the House, members of both parties took to the floor and pointed fingers.
REPRESENTATIVE EARL BLUMENAUER: If you're serious about working together to solve problems, why don't you work together to solve problems?
REPRESENTATIVE TED POE: Where oh where has the Senate gone? Where oh where can they be? With time so short and issues so long, where oh where has the Senate gone?
Earlier today, I spoke with Congressman Phil Roe, Republican of Tennessee. He's a member of the Tea Party Caucus. He's also a medical doctor. He'd like to see the healthcare law repealed or defunded but, he insists, he doesn't want to see a shutdown.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. Four more hours, that's how long lawmakers have to agree on a spending bill before the federal government shuts down. Hundreds of thousands of employees will be furloughed. National parks and museums will close and some food safety programs will shut down. This afternoon, President Obama criticized Congressional Republicans for the economic impact a shutdown would have.
With the government on the brink of a shutdown, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have come together to compromise on helium. Legislation passed late last week will keep the gas used in party balloons flowing from a national reserve.
The helium bill's passage shows that compromise is still possible in the fractious political climate. But finding agreement over this inert gas was tough. The new law came after more than a year of intensive lobbying by some of America's largest businesses and academic institutions.
Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 9:44 am
Good morning, fellow political junkies.
It's not just any morning. It's what may be government-shutdown eve, since it is looking more likely that the federal government will experience its first partial closure in 17 years come 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.
Given that, little of the political coverage and analysis this morning is what most people would call uplifting. Here are some of the more interesting items and themes we've come across so far:
Drawn-out fights over spending bills are nothing new for Congress. But that's where the fights used to stay: in Congress. The rest of the country didn't have to pay much attention to countdown clocks and all this drama.
"In the '60s and '70s down until 1980, it was not taken that seriously at all," says Charles Tiefer, a former legal adviser to the House of Representatives, who now teaches at the University of Baltimore Law School. In the old days, he says, when lawmakers reached a budget stalemate, the federal workforce just went about its business.
Originally published on Sun September 29, 2013 10:10 am
The federal government has moved closer to the brink of a shutdown, as the House of Representatives approved a temporary funding bill Saturday night that the Senate and White House say has no chance of becoming law.
The House bill would avert the budget deadline at midnight Monday by funding the U.S. government into December. But it also includes a one-year delay of Obamacare — a provision that Democrats and some Republicans say has no place in a stopgap funding bill.