With less than 36-hours until a shutdown, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says a late night vote by the House has presented Democrats with a way to keep the federal government running.
The new proposal is being pitched by Republican leaders as a compromise, but it still links financing the government to the president's health care law.
Shortly after midnight, the GOP-controlled House passed a bill to keep funding the government through December 15.
The measure also delays the Affordable Care Act by one year and repeals a tax on medical devices in the law, which is considered a non-starter in the Democratic-controlled Senate and in the face of President Obama's veto pen.
McConnell says the House has put the ball in the Senate's court and the American people do not want a shutdown, but don't want Obamacare either.
From McConnell's office:
“While some in the Senate Democrat leadership may think employers should get preferential treatment over individuals and families, and that repealing Obamacare's medical device tax is 'stupid,' many other Democrats have made it clear they disagree. They should be allowed to vote to protect the thousands of good American jobs the medical device tax threatens to destroy and to give the same treatment to individuals and families that the White House has already given employers. The choice for Democrat leaders is clear: either shut down the government, or listen to the American people and act.”
Democrats have poked holes in this latest move, however, calling it “smoke in mirrors” given that it once again puts funding for the president's health care law.
As observers have noted, with Obamacare's implementation set to roll out on Oct. 1 it is unlikely the president will gut his signature achievement.
Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth says that even the wording in the House compromise bill anticipates a shutdown by exempting the U.S. military.
“It's obvious that they are trying to shut down the government because they are putting forth a provision to make sure that our military personnel are paid if the government shuts down. So they know they are shutting down the government and they don't want to take the flack of having our soldiers not be paid. This is just insanity actually up here prevailing”
As both sides claim the other will be responsible for a shutdown, federal officials are preparing for the first closure since 1995.
The previous shutdown cost $1.4 billion and there are a number of other consequences—from federal housing loans, closing national facilities, halting government research and furloughing hundreds of thousands of employees— but observers argue it is all but inevitable lawmakers will be unable to reach a consensus before 12:01 a.m Tuesday.
If there is a pathway to compromise, it could come via the medical device tax that received more bipartisan support than delaying Obamacare's implementation in the House vote.
From The New York Times:
Veteran House Republicans say there is still one plausible way to avoid a shutdown. The Senate could take up the House spending bill, strip out the one-year health care delay and accept the 2.3-percent medical device tax repeal as a face-saving victory for Republicans. The tax, worth $30 billion over 10 years, has ardent opponents among Democrats as well. Its repeal would not prevent the law from going into effect. Consumers can begin signing up for insurance plans under the law beginning on Tuesday.
Polling numbers show 44 percent of Americans would blame the GOP for a shutdown compared to 35 percent saying it's the Democrats and President Obama's fault.