House Republicans Cancel Recess

Controversies in the house over the debt ceiling and “Obamacare” threaten a government shutdown

On Thursday, in an effort to avoid a shutdown of the government, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives canceled a recess that was due to begin on September 23 and last 1 week. Most government agencies would shut down October 1 without new spending authority. This would have been a politically painful replay of the shutdowns that occurred during the mid-1990s.

Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader, had proposed a plan to fund the government by defunding the “Obamacare” health reforms. Republican conservatives, however, rejected his plan demanding a harder line and introduced their own plan. Conservatives proposed a yearlong government funding measure along with a one-year delay in implementing “Obamacare.”

Representative Tom Graves of Georgia spearheaded a hold on discretionary program spending for fiscal 2014 to $967.4 billion; a move that would keep the savings from across-theboard “sequestered” spending cuts. Democrats are pushing for a higher level of spending that will be funded in part with tax hikes on the wealthy. Graves plan has 42 Republican co-sponsors and will not increase the debt limit. The U.S. Treasury Department said this action would be needed by mid-October.

Delaying Obamacare, rather than defunding it, began gaining traction among House Republicans on Thursday, when it became apparent that Cantor’s defunding plan failed to muster enough votes. Republican conservatives determined the defunding plan was just another symbolic vote against the healthcare law. Conservatives demanded a tougher line and desperately want to stop the health insurance exchanges that are supposed to launch on October 1. Idaho Republican, Mike Simpson said, “I think a lot of members that actually want to defund (Obamacare) are starting to understand that by delaying it for a year, we’re actually better off.”

House Republican leader James Lankford said many party representatives want to use the debt limit increase as advantage to try to thwart Obamacare. To delay the healthcare law, he said, “The vehicle is every vehicle that’s out there.” The Bipartisan Policy Center released a study this week that found from October 18 through November 5 the United States could begin defaulting on its obligations if the debt ceiling is not increased.

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