White House says ‘clean’ budget Bill would pass Congress
US shutdown continues as Republicans refuse to drop opposition to ‘Obamacare’
John Zangas, who identified himself as a federal employee, protests against the current government shutdown at the US Capitol in Washington yesterday. Photograph: Reuters.
The White House has urged Republicans to put to a vote a budget reopening the US government – without conditions attached delaying President Barack Obama’s healthcare law – maintaining it would be passed.
As the government shutdown entered a second day, Republican leaders continued to demand that the law be delayed or repealed, while Mr Obama and fellow Democrats refused to give in.
More Republicans in the House of Representatives came forward yesterday to say that they were ready to pass a no-strings-attached budget, but their leadership, driven by far-right conservatives, has maintained the stalemate.
‘Up and running’
As both sides refused to compromise, Mr Carney said if Mr Boehner put such a bill on the floor, government could be “up and running by dinner time”.
House Democrats, led by the party’s leader in the chamber, Nancy Pelosi, backed the White House’s demand that House Republicans reopen government without seeking to delay or derail “Obamacare”.
Congress failed to avert a shutdown on Tuesday because the Republican-led House and Democrat-led Senate could not agree a budget, with Republicans insisting any measure had to be tied to a delay or defunding of Obamacare, a law passed in 2010 to extend health insurance to millions without cover.
The shutdown has so far sent home more than 700,000 federal workers on unpaid leave, shut national monuments and parks, and closed government offices and websites.
The director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned that the shutdown was “extremely damaging” to the country’s ability to protect the security of the country.
Mr Clapper told a Senate committee that an estimated 70 per cent of intelligence workers had been placed on unpaid leave.
Congress has 14 days to avert a more damaging crisis when the government runs out of cash and lawmakers must vote to raise the country’s borrowing limit or else face an unprecedented US default.
Mr Obama met Congressional leaders at the White House yesterday evening to try to end the shutdown and discuss the looming crisis over the increase in the debt ceiling.
“We’re pleased the president finally recognises that his refusal to negotiate is indefensible,” said a spokesman for Mr Boehner ahead of the meeting.
In a sign of the distance between the warring sides in Congress, the decision of Senate Democrat leader Harry Reid to speak with the House Speaker was seen as progress.
Mr Reid said he told Mr Boehner that Congress had to “stop playing these foolish games that keep coming to us from the other side of the Capitol”.