As expected, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed its own version of a short-term spending bill. It’s the version the House approved last week, minus language that would defund Obamacare. That effectively tossed the ball back to the Republican-controlled House.
And President Obama warned House Republicans to avoid the twin disruptions of a government shutdown (at midnight Monday) and a debt default (in mid-October).
“Past shutdowns have disrupted the economy, and this shutdown would as well,” Obama said Friday afternoon, speaking from the White House press briefing room. “It would throw a wrench into the gears of our economy at a time when those gears have gained some traction. And that’s why many Republican senators and many Republican governors have urged Republicans to knock it off, pass a budget and move on. Let’s get this done.”
Responding to a Republican threat not to raise the debt ceiling next month without Democratic acceptance of a laundry list of concessions, Obama said:
“I don’t know how I can be more clear about this: Nobody gets to threaten the full faith and credit of the United States just to extract political concessions. No one gets to hurt our economy and millions of innocent people just because there are a couple of laws that you do not like. It has not been done in the past. We’re not going to start doing it now.”
“I’m not going to start setting a precedent, not just for me, but for future presidents, where one chamber in Congress can basically say each time there needs to be a vote to make sure Treasury pays its bills, we’re not going to sign it unless our particular hobby horse gets advanced.”
Among other things, House Republicans want a one-year delay in full implementation of the Affordable Care Act in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. On Tuesday, individuals can start buying coverage through the online health insurance exchanges.
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement: “The House will take action that reflects the fundamental fact that Americans don’t want a government shutdown and they don’t want the train wreck that is Obamacare. Grandstanding from the president, who refuses to even be a part of the process, won’t bring Congress any closer to a resolution.”
On Saturday, the House is scheduled to take up the temporary budget bill.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., urged House leaders not to make any changes to the Senate’s bill for fear of missing the midnight Monday deadline. But House Republicans have shown no inclination to take directions from Senate Democrats. That seems unlikely to change.
The Senate adjourned Friday afternoon but could return over the weekend to respond to House action, if necessary.
This is coming down to the wire, just like every other fiscal standoff of the past two plus years.