Federal government shutdown draws near as bickering continues

MGN-Online
Monday, September 30, 2013 - 4:55pm

Showdown time.

In less than a day, big parts of the federal government will shut down unless Congress can find a way to bridge differences over health-care reform and other issues.

The American people don't like the idea of a federal shutdown, according to a new poll. And the stock market isn't happy, based on what amounts to early morning betting on what will happen when the market opens.

But members of Congress persisted Monday in blaming the other side as the midnight shutdown deadline grew ever closer.

Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina said Monday on CNN's "New Day" that her party continues to be deeply concerned about Tuesday's scheduled opening of Obamacare health insurance exchanges and "keeping the checkbook out of Barack Obama's hands and the damage can be done there."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz, D-Florida, appearing alongside Ellmers, characterized the Republican strategy of tying overall government operations to at least a delay in health care changes as "irrational."

"It jeopardizes the economy, and it makes no sense," she said.

The Senate is scheduled to meet Monday afternoon and is expected to consider a bill passed by the Republican-controlled House that would delay Obamacare for a year and repeal a tax on medical devices.

But the Senate's Democratic leadership has consistently rejected tying the spending resolution to Obamacare, leaving little apparent room to avoid a shutdown in the scant few hours before it would begin.

A new CNN/ORC poll shows that Americans are not happy about the prospect of a shutdown.

According to the poll, 68% of Americans think shutting down the government for even a few days is a bad idea, while 27% think it's a good idea.

And it appears most Americans would blame congressional Republicans for a shutdown: Sixty-nine percent said they agreed with the statement that the party's elected officials were acting like "spoiled children." Democrats, however, weren't far behind: Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they, too, were acting like spoiled kids.

Stock traders also seemed solidly against a shutdown.

Dow Jones futures contracts -- essentially a bet on how the stock market will perform -- were down 127 points early Monday.

Among major economic issues that could result from a shutdown: delays in processing FHA housing loan applications -- a potential drag on the housing recovery -- and the potential loss of government spending that's helping prop up the economy, said Christine Romans, host of CNN's "Your Money."

"You've got an economy right now that's very tied to government spending and government contracts, so that could have a ripple effect all across Main Street," she said on CNN's "New Day."

If the government does shut down, it would be the first time it has happened since 1995. That shutdown, sparked by a budget battle between Democratic President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress, went on 21 days

While the military will remain on duty, as will many essential public safety, health and welfare operations, many government offices will close. About a quarter of the federal government's 3.3 million employees -- those frequently referred to as "non-essential" -- will be told to stay home from work until the shutdown is over.

The rest are supposed to be workers whose duties involve "the safety of human life or the protection of property or performing certain other types of excepted work."

As it happens, members of Congress fall into that catchall list.

 

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