The U.S. House's vote to fund the federal government on the condition that the Affordable Care Act be defunded is leading many lawmakers to believe that the likelihood of a government shutdown is becoming increasingly more probable.
U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL, 5) says he believes there will be at least a short-term closure of the federal government due to the latest spending battle in Congress.
"Normally I am an optimistic person," Quigley said at an unrelated Chicago press conference Monday. "I mean I'm a Cub(s) fan. Anybody can have a bad century. But this Congress is having a bad couple years. I think one of the problems that we're facing here is that Speaker Boehner doesn't have control of his caucus."
"It is a multi-headed monster, and I think that the tip of the dog's tail, not just the tail wagging the dog, it's the tip of the dog's tail wagging the body politic," the congressman continued.
On Friday, the GOP-led House set the stage for a government shutdown when it passed a short-term spending bill that also defunds ObamaCare. Congress has to reach a deal on a continuing resolution to fund the government by no later than September 30, the end of the fiscal year, in order to avoid a government shutdown.
After Friday's vote, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL, 8) slammed the Republican's spending bill, which she says moves the government closer to a shutdown and extends the already devastating and unsustainable sequestration cuts to education programs like Head Start.
Duckworth issued the following statement after the vote:
I am deeply disappointed that the majority failed to bring a serious proposal for a vote.
My neighbors sent me to Washington to find solutions, not to play politics. This needlessly partisan proposal makes significant cuts to programs that help working families and increases the chance of a government shutdown at a time when our economy is just beginning to rebound. Instead of taking a constructive approach to our nation’s budget and to fixing the problems of the Affordable Care Act, the bill would take away all ACA benefits.
It would even deny medical insurance coverage for children with preexisting conditions. I call on members from both sides of the aisle to come together and find a solution that creates jobs, preserves our safety net, and keeps our government running.
After Friday's vote, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL, 11) made note of some of the country's woes, stating that the unemployment rate among the middle class remains unacceptably high, the House still hasn't taken up immigration reform and Americans are still grappling with foreclosures every day.
“But we can’t address any of these important issues when we are on the verge of government shutdown and default and continue to govern from one crisis to the next,” the congressman said in a statement.
Foster added that the spending measure indicates that House Republicans are more interested in political posturing than passing workable legislation.
Behind the scenes, Quigley said Tea Party lawmakers are threatening moderate Republicans who would normally reach a compromise with their Democratic counterparts in order to keep the federal government operating and pay the United States' full debt and obligations, namely by raising the nation's debt ceiling. The House could take up a one-year, debt-ceiling measure this week, which is expected to contain provisions that would delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act for one year. (The law's Health Insurance Marketplace launches October 1). The House's debt ceiling proposal may also include the green-lighting of the Keystone XL pipeline.
"They're threatening them with primaries, and as a result they're skewing the issues to the right making compromise nearly impossible, and I think what the speaker has on his hands is a petulant child who he refuses to discipline," Quigley added.
The House's stopgap spending bill has no chance of succeeding in the Senate, which is expected to remove the language calling for the defunding of the health care reform law and send the spending package back to the House.
Meanwhile, the House will be back in session on Wednesday, when lawmakers will begin to vote on procedural bills "that mean nothing until people decide that they're either going to hold their breath until they get their way or we close this government down," Quigley said.
"If I had to guess, they will go to the eleventh hour and play a brinksmanship game, which could begin with the Asian markets failing as they learn the news of our failing to raise the debt ceiling," he said, adding that such a move is a great risk to America's economic strength.
"I think that there will be issues that play out as we unfold the health care law, as there was with Medicare Part D, but we'll get past those, and we'll be a better country for it, because it's the right thing to do," the congressman stressed. "But until that day, we will see the farthest right do what they're doing right now to shut this country down. I don't think the American public supports that. I don't think they supported it when Speaker [Newt] Gingrich did it either."