Shutdown Stalemate Continues into Second Week
On the tenth day of the federal government shutdown, signs of a possible end to the impasse appeared. Notably, this week’s activities by key congressional players reflected a shift in focus from repealing the Affordable Care Act to addressing the critical fiscal issues facing the nation, a sign that Congress may be able to reach a deal that leaves the health reform law mostly intact.
President Obama this week expressed his willingness to consider a short-term deal that would temporarily lift the debt ceiling and reopen the government, giving negotiators time to work out a longer-term solution to the 2014 budget and the national debt limit. He maintained his position that broader negotiations are off the table until the government reopens. Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) proposed a temporary increase to the debt ceiling that would extend U.S. borrowing authority through November 22, 2013. The plan would avert the default that the Treasury says will occur on October 17 if the debt ceiling is not lifted, but it does not include a continuing budget resolution that would allow the government to reopen.
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) has also brought forward a proposal to temporarily re-open the government, in conjunction with repealing the Affordable Care Act’s medical device tax and granting federal agencies more flexibility in allocating the spending cuts mandated by sequestration. It was unclear as of Thursday afternoon whether Senator Collins’ plan would be able to garner the votes needed for passage in the Senate. President Obama has scheduled meetings with Senate Democrats and House Republicans this afternoon to discuss how to end the stalemate.