Up for Obama's Consideration: Competing House and Senate GOP Shutdown Deals
Obama expressed his misgivings to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a phone conversation.
“What we think is not the right way to go is to try again to link extension of the debt ceiling to budget negotiations, and therefore link the possibility of default to whether one side gets what it wants in those negotiations,” Carney said.
A substantial portion of the federal government has been closed for 11 days, originally as a dispute between the president and House Republicans over the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which requires, among other things, that all Americans obtain health insurance.
The GOP leadership initially acted to pass a temporary spending plan funding the federal government beyond Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year. In exchange, the caucus demanded Obamacare’s defunding.
Neither Obama nor Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, would go along with the ultimatum resulting in an impasse, forcing a partial shutdown that continues. Democrats have insisted that lawmakers adopt a continuing resolution.
Republicans changed their demands several times, asking at one point that Obamacare’s implementation be postponed for a year. None of the proposals gained White House approval.
The House also has balked at approving an increase in the debt ceiling without White House concessions. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has warned lawmakers that failing to raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 17 would leave the government without borrowing authority, meaning it would not be able to meet its financial obligations.
While opposition to Obamacare sparked the government shutdown it has barely been mentioned in recent talks to the chagrin of conservative lawmakers who keep the healthcare law in their crosshairs and could scuttle any deal.
Speaking Friday at the 8th annual Values Voter Summit, a collection of social conservatives gathered in Washington, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) insisted that “this egregious system, that will ultimately be known as ‘Deathcare’ must be defeated,” maintaining that congressional conservatives must demand that Obama “allow Obamacare to be voluntary for every American.”
“When the federal government controls your healthcare they literally control life and death,” Bachmann said.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who has led the fight against Obamacare in the upper chamber with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), told summit attendees that “the very best argument against Obamacare is the president's conduct during the first 10 days of this shutdown.”
“I mean, look what's happened,” he said. “The president is using the immense power of the federal government to hurt the American people. Why? In order to win a political argument. What happens then when we turn over some of the most private, intimate decisions in our lives, our healthcare system, to the government? When will that be used as a tool against us? We must stop it, we must defund it, we cannot accept it.”