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President Obama's Statement on Possible Shutdown

Updated: Monday, September 30 2013, 09:16 PM EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Their unity fraying, House Republicans bent but did
not blink Monday in their demand for changes to the nation's health care
overhaul as the price for preventing the first partial government
shutdown in 17 years.

"We're at the brink," said Sen. Barbara
Mikulski, D-Md., moments after the Senate voted 54-46 to reject the
latest GOP attempt to tie government financing to delays in "Obamacare."

The
stock market dropped on fears that political gridlock between the White
House and a tea party-heavy Republican party would prevail.

As
lawmakers squabbled, President Barack Obama urged House Republicans to
abandon demands he said were designed to "save face after making some
impossible promises to the extreme right of their party." Speaking of
the health care law that undergoes a major expansion on Tuesday, he said
emphatically, "You can't shut it down."

Earlier, the president
said he was willing to discuss budget issues with congressional leaders.
He added, "The only way to do that is for everybody to sit down in good
faith without threatening to harm women and veterans and children with a
government shutdown."

In a fast-paced series of events, the
Senate voted to reject a House-passed measure that would have kept the
government open while delaying implementation of the health care law for
a year and permanently repealing a medical device tax that helps
finance it.

House Republicans, reacting swiftly, decided to try
again. Their new proposal was to allow the government to remain open,
while imposing a one-year delay in a requirement in the health care law
for individuals to purchase coverage. Their measure also would require
members of Congress and their aides as well as the administration's
political appointees to bear the full cost of their own coverage by
barring the government from making the customary employer contribution.

"This
is a matter of funding the government and providing fairness to the
American people," said Speaker John Boehner. "Why wouldn't members of
Congress vote for it?"

Asked if a stand-alone spending bill was possible instead, he said, "That's not going to happen."

Democrats
said the House GOP measure was doomed in the Senate, and would meet the
same fate as every other attempt to delay the law that passed in 2010
and was upheld by the Supreme Court.

A shutdown would cause an
uneven impact across the face of government, sending hundreds of
thousands of workers home and inconveniencing millions of Americans who
rely on government services or are drawn to the nation's parks and other
attractions.

Many low-to-moderate-income borrowers and
first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face
delays, and Obama said veterans' centers would be closed.

About
800,000 federal workers, many already reeling from the effect of
automatic budget cuts, would be ordered to report to work Tuesday for
about four hours - but only to carry out shutdown-related chores such as
changing office voicemail messages and completing time cards. Once they
departed, they would be under orders not to do any government work.

With
less financial impact but important to many viewers, a camera that
feeds images of a new-born panda at the National Zoo would be shut down.

Some
critical services such as patrolling the borders, inspecting meat and
controlling air traffic would continue. Social Security benefits would
be sent, and the Medicare and Medicaid health care programs for the
elderly and poor would continue to pay doctors and hospitals.

Ironically,
the issue at the core of the dispute, implementation of key parts of
"Obamacare," will begin Tuesday on schedule, shutdown or no.

Among
Republicans, some said the revised legislation did not go far enough in
seeking to delay a law that all members of the party oppose and want to
see eradicated.

Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia said it felt as if
Republicans were retreating, and Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia said
there was not unanimity when the rank and file met to discuss a next
move.

For the first time since the showdown began more than a
week ago, there was also public dissent from the Republican strategy
that has been carried out at the insistence of tea party-aligned
lawmakers working in tandem with GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Rep.
Charles Dent, R-Pa., said he was willing to vote for stand-alone
legislation that would keep the government running and contained no
health care-related provisions. "I would be supportive of it, and I
believe the votes are there in the House to pass it at that point," the
fifth-term congressman said.

Dent added he has been urging the Republican leadership to allow a vote along those lines.

A
second Republican, Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado, said, "We haven't
given up on Obamacare ... but for this week we may have to give up. We
tried everything and Harry Reid won't budge," he said of the Senate
majority leader.

Other Republicans sought to blame Democrats for
any shutdown, but Dent conceded that Republicans would bear the blame,
whether or not they deserved it.

U.S. troops were shielded from
any damage to their wallets when the Senate approved legislation
assuring the military would be paid in the in the event of a shutdown.
The House passed the bill early Sunday morning.

That had no impact on those who labor at other agencies.

"I
know some other employees, if you don't have money saved, it's going to
be difficult," said Thelma Manley, who has spent seven years as a staff
assistant with the Internal Revenue Service during a 30-year career in
government.

As for herself, she said, "I'm a Christian, I trust
in God wholeheartedly and my needs will be met." She added, "I do have
savings, so I can go to the reserve, so to speak."

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. "We may even gain seats,"
Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, who chairs the party campaign committee, said
recently.

For all the controversy about other matters, the
legislation in question is a spending bill - and there was little if any
disagreement about the spending-related issues.

The House and
Senate have agreed to fix spending for a wide swath of federal programs
at an annual level of $986 billion for the budget year that begins Oct.
1, the same as for the 12 months just ending.

Without separate
legislation to make further reductions, across-the-board cuts would
automatically take effect early next year that would reduce the level to
$967 billion.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.President Obama's Statement on Possible Shutdown


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