Read

Search form

U.S. Government Begins "Tea Party" Shutdown

U.S. Government Begins "Tea Party" Shutdown
Tue, 10/1/2013 - by Dan Roberts
This article originally appeared on The Guardian

The U.S. government was forced to begin closing swaths of non-essential services on Tuesday morning after frantic rounds of late night political sparring failed to avert the first federal shutdown in nearly two decades.

As a midnight deadline to extend Congressional spending authority ticked ever closer, Republicans staged a series of last-ditch efforts to use a once-routine budget procedure to force Democrats to abandon their efforts to extend U.S. health insurance.

Three separate attacks on the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, were staged by the House of Representatives, only to be rejected in turn by the Democrat-controlled Senate, which accused Republicans of holding the country to ransom.

Shortly before midnight, Senate majority leader Harry Reid marked the end of the process by rejecting House calls for formal talks to reconcile their conflicting positions, arguing it was impossible to negotiate with a “gun to our heads”.

“This is a very serious time in the history of our country,” Reid said. “Millions of people are going to be affected tomorrow and the Republicans are still playing games”

An estimated 800,000 federal workers will be forced to stay at home from Tuesday under a stalemate that could drag on for days and disrupt services as varied as national parks and the U.S. space program.

The White House has drawn up a list of essential staff who are legally allowed to carry on working, but President Barack Obama warned that a shutdown would have an immediate affect on the fragile U.S. economy.

“We do not have a clear indication that Congress will act in time for the president to sign a Continuing Resolution before the end of the day tomorrow, October 1,” said a White House statement issued shortly before midnight.

“Therefore, agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations. We urge Congress to act quickly to pass a Continuing Resolution to provide a short-term bridge that ensures sufficient time to pass a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year, and to restore the operation of critical public services and programs that will be impacted by a lapse in appropriations.”

Obama also issued a statement to military employees after signing a Republican-proposed law that exempts active-duty servicemen from the effects of the shutdown, but will not protect civilian workers.

“I know the days ahead could mean more uncertainty, including possible furloughs,” Obama said. “You and your families deserve better than the dysfunction we’re seeing in Congress.”

House speaker John Boehner denied that Republican tactics were responsible for the shutdown, insisting Democrats were to blame for refusing to negotiate over Obamacare.

“I didn't come here to shut down the government,” Boehner said during one of several heated House debates.

“I came here to fight for a smaller, less costly and more accountable federal government. But here we find ourselves in this moment dealing with a law that’s causing unknown consequences and unknown damage to the American people and to our economy. And that issue is Obamacare.”

But Democrats are confident that U.S. public opinion will continue to hold Republicans to blame for what could be days of disruption until a deal can be struck.

They argue that Republicans are using underhand methods to overturn a law that was passed four years ago, ratified by the supreme court and endorsed by voters at the last presidential election.

Senator Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, said: “If we surrender to hostage-taking tonight, these guys would be back within a couple of weeks without a shadow of a doubt. What we are dealing with tonight is an extraordinary anti-democratic act.”

Originally published by The Guardian

Add new comment

Sign Up

Article Tabs

gun violence, gun lobby, mass killings, National Rifle Association

Powerful almost by default, and handled with a clear mission at hand and an eye for empathy, "91%" is a call to activist arms.

Oaxaca teacher strikes, Educational Reform, National Coordinator of Education Workers, National Union of Education Workers, Enrique Peña Nieto, student deaths, student disappearances, Nochixtlán blockade, Nochixtlán violence, Popular Assembly of the Peopl

Teachers in southern Mexico are back on the barricades, and once again the state has responded with brute force.

tax avoidance, corporate tax evasion, corporate taxes, job creation

While candidates bicker and Congress stagnates and the rest of us dwell on the latest shooting tragedy, the super-rich enjoy the absence of attention paid to one of our nation’s most destructive issues: tax avoidance.

Abby Martin, Monsanto, World Health Organization, carcinogens

Few corporations in the world are as loathed – and as sinister – as Monsanto, but the threat posed to people and planet could be reaching new heights.

Brexit, Jo Cox, E.U. referendum, Britain Stronger in Europe, Electoral Reform Society, Left Leave, rightwing movements, U.K. xenophobia

Many are calling the U.K.’s European Union referendum vote on Thursday, the most important vote in every British person’s lifetime.

Abby Martin, Monsanto, World Health Organization, carcinogens

Few corporations in the world are as loathed – and as sinister – as Monsanto, but the threat posed to people and planet could be reaching new heights.

Posted 2 days 12 hours ago
Jo Cox, white supremacy, racism, anti-immigrant, Brexit, Tommy Mair, political killings, E.U. referendum

The murder of Jo Cox has shocked British society, sparking renewed discussions about how to deal with racism, hatred, xenophobia and white supremacy just days before the Brexit vote.

Posted 4 days 12 hours ago
Brexit, Jo Cox, E.U. referendum, Britain Stronger in Europe, Electoral Reform Society, Left Leave, rightwing movements, U.K. xenophobia

Many are calling the U.K.’s European Union referendum vote on Thursday, the most important vote in every British person’s lifetime.

Posted 3 days 10 hours ago
Bernie Sanders, political revolution, National Nurses Union, racial inequality, economic inequality, Hillary Clinton, Democratic Party, Democratic Socialists of America, Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative, People and Planet First Budget

Last weekend's People's Summit concentrated on domestic policy and economic inequality, featuring spirited debates, discussions and workshops that tried to chart the path ahead for America's new left.

Posted 4 days 12 hours ago
Hawaii GMOs, anti-GMO movement, genetically engineered crops, Syngenta, Monsanto, Earthjustice

Most people know Hawaii for its beautiful beaches, world-class surfing and delicious Kona coffee, but the islands are also ground zero for GE crops – and last week various counties were in court to defend themselves against them.

Posted 4 days 12 hours ago
prison-industrial complex, jail leasing, high incarceration rates, Prison Policy Initiative, prison privatization, criminal justice reform

A recent report on “jail leasing” exposes the extent of a practice that harms prisoners and raises ethical questions about public institutions profiting off incarceration.

Abby Martin, Monsanto, World Health Organization, carcinogens

Few corporations in the world are as loathed – and as sinister – as Monsanto, but the threat posed to people and planet could be reaching new heights.

crude by rail, Citizens Acting for Rail Safety, crude rail explosions, BNSF, rain transit, rail revolution

We used to own our farms. We used to ride the rails. We used to have localized economies.

Oaxaca teacher strikes, Educational Reform, National Coordinator of Education Workers, National Union of Education Workers, Enrique Peña Nieto, student deaths, student disappearances, Nochixtlán blockade, Nochixtlán violence, Popular Assembly of the Peopl

Teachers in southern Mexico are back on the barricades, and once again the state has responded with brute force.