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Dublin: 12°C Saturday 21 May 2022

Obama "not at all" resigned to a government shutdown

800,000 federal employees could be forced off the job, if a midnight deadline to extend spending bills is not reached.

With hours to go until a possible government shutdown, visitors tour the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington DC.
With hours to go until a possible government shutdown, visitors tour the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington DC.
Image: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

US PRESIDENT BARACK Obama says he’s “not at all” resigned to a government shutdown.

He says he expects to speak to congressional leaders during the day and in ensuing days to address budget and debt impasses.

The Democratic-controlled Senate was expected Monday to reject the House of Representative’s latest short-term spending proposal because it contains a one-year delay on the nation’s health care law.

The two chambers are trying to reach an agreement to avert a shutdown looming at midnight (5am tomorrow Irish time).

The House bill would see federal agencies funded through 15 December at current spending levels. However, the bill also delays the implementation of 2010′s Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, by a year.

Under the bill, a tax on medical devices that would be used to fund Obamacare would be repealed and employers with moral objections would be entitled to refuse abortion and contraceptive coverage.

The Senate bill funds federal agencies to 15 November and does not include provisions for repealing the medical device tax or a denial of coverage.

As the day has worn on and the deadline looms closer, the unity on the Republican side of the aisle has shown signs of fraying.

Republican Congressman Charles Dent of Pennsylvania said that he would vote for legislation that funded the government and had no healthcare provision.

Speaker of the House John Boehner, who leads the Republicans, is due to meet with rank and file members this evening.

If the shutdown goes ahead, 800,000 federal employees would be forced off the job without pay. Critical services such as border patrol and air traffic control would continue.

Ironically, Obamacare will be implemented as of tomorrow, shutdown or no shutdown.

The last time the government shutdown, in 1996, Republicans suffered significant political damage, and then-President Bill Clinton’s political fortunes were revived in the process.

Now, as then, Republicans control the House, and senior lawmakers insist even a shutdown isn’t likely to threaten their majority in the 2014 elections.

AP provided additionally reporting.

Read: US facing government shutdown over Obamacare

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