Represent!

Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Showdown in Congress on Obamacare and automatic budget cuts

Stormy days ahead in Congress as lawmakers tackle budget deadline
Stormy days ahead in Congress as lawmakers tackle budget deadline

Call it DC deja-vu.

The U.S. is lurching toward a shutdown of the federal government at the end of the month unless Congress can agree on a temporary funding measure. Prospects for a bipartisan resolution are dim as Democrats and Republicans spar over healthcare and automatic budget cuts.

The GOP-led House has voted 40 times to take apart the Affordable Care Act. And 40 times, the Democratically-led Senate has ignored it. Now, a provision to defund Obamacare has been attached to a temporary funding bill that will keep the government running for a few months.

Republican Congressman John Campbell of Irvine says he'll vote for the bill even though it's likely the Senate will strip out the healthcare portion of it. "What it does provide is it provides a motivation," he says, " a deadline if you will, to make some kind of agreement."

The question is what happens when the Senate version comes back.

Campbell says as a lifelong fiscal conservative, his vote will depend on the funding levels included in the revised version.

House Democrats are equally adamant about the final dollar amount. They want an end to automatic, across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration.

Both sides are dug in. But Campbell - who is retiring from Congress next year - is optimistic. He insists "nobody wants to shut down the government." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco says she thinks a compromise can be reached. "Democrats can supply votes if Democrats have a say in what the legislation is," she said. 

The vote on the temporary funding bill is scheduled Friday. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's office has warned lawmakers they could be working this weekend if they don't get it done.

Keeping the government open is just the first battle. Congress next takes on an even more contentious topic: raising the debt ceiling.

The House cancelled a scheduled recess next week. Lawmakers will be back at work on Wednesday.

 

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