Deadlines, deadlines. Congress has until the end of Monday to approve a continuing resolution to keep the government funded — and until Oct. 17 to increase the nation's debt limit.
Thursday morning, Speaker John Boehner said he didn't "expect" a government shutdown, but said he also doesn't see the House accepting the Senate version of the funding resolution. The battle over healthcare is likely to continue into the debt limit fight in October.
House Republicans attended a closed door strategy session but refused to discuss what they'll do if the Senate version of a temporary funding measure comes back without the House provision to strip funding for the Affordable Care Act.
Huntington Beach Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher admitted that even if the GOP is successful at cutting off funding, the healthcare exchanges created under Obamacare would still begin enrolling people on Oct. 1.
But he said the pending law "threatens the well being of many Americans, maybe a majority of Americans who took care of themselves, had insurance, and were very satisfied with their health coverage, now it threatens them." He says by taking up the Obamacare debate now, "at a time when the stakes are high," people will "negotiate in good faith at that time."
But is it worth risking shutting down the government? Rohrabacher said there's never any progress without risk.
Not all California GOP members are ready to risk shutting down the government. Hanford Congressman David Valadao said his constituents are "not fans of Obamacare." But he says "shutting down the government isn't a good idea."
Valadao said lots of jobs in his district depend on government workers, citing canning plants that process peaches and vegetables. He said they must have inspectors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the floor or they shut down.
House Democrats are outraged.
Carson Democrat Janice Hahn said she keeps hoping her colleagues will have "common sense." She said she never saw this kind of "manmade crisis" in her 10 years on the L.A. City Council. "And by the way," she added, "we're only talking about a continuing resolution for three months, although I heard today the rumor that possibly [just for] a week!"
L.A. Democrat Tony Cardenas said continuing resolutions "make me want to puke." And what if the House GOP attaches some other sort of healthcare measure to the resolution, such as stripping the subsidies lawmakers would receive to purchase their health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges? Cardenas called that a "poison pill" that Democrats would vote down.
The clock is ticking. The Senate is expected to vote no later than Saturday on its version of a temporary funding resolution. The House could vote on Sunday. But if there are attachments to the resolution, the measure would have to bounce back to the Senate, and then back again to the House. The deadline for Congress to keep the government funded is midnight on Monday.