Shutdown grows more likely as House GOP plots next move

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A government shutdown has become increasingly likely as conservatives ramp up pressure on House Republicans to reject a Senate bill restoring funding for ObamaCare.
 
Conservative activists say Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) credibility is on the line, and warn he will not serve another term as House GOP leader if he agrees to fund the Affordable Care Act along with the rest of government.
 

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Senate Democrats, however, say Boehner will be responsible for shutting down the government if he makes any changes to the stopgap bill that the Senate passed on Friday.
 
"I want everyone to listen and to hear: The United States Senate has acted," Reid said on the Senate floor. "This is the only legislation that can avert a government shutdown, and that time is ticking as we speak."
 
Reid adjourned the Senate until 2 pm Monday, leaving the House to work out the government funding stalemate on its own. Reid’s staff said there are not any talks with Boehner on finding a compromise before the Oct. 1 deadline.
 
Brent Bozell, the chairman of ForAmerica and a prominent conservative activist, said Boehner would face calls to step down if he accepts a stopgap spending measure that does not defund or delay ObamaCare.
 
“He’s going to be threatened. If he chooses to side with Barack Obama and with the Democrats in order to fund ObamaCare, then he owns ObamaCare and he can’t get out of that.
 
“He’ll be as responsible for ObamaCare as Harry Reid,” he said.
 
Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, said conservative groups around the country on Friday began focusing a national grassroots lobbying campaign on House Republicans.
 
She said Tea Party Patriots directed 10,000 calls a day to Senate offices while the upper chamber debated a resolution linking the stopgap with a measure defunding ObamaCare.
 
Martin said there would be growing calls from conservatives around the country for Boehner to resign if he allows the Senate-passed stopgap to receive a vote on the House floor.
 
“I think if he does that we’ll probably see people across this country in the grassroots calling for a new Speaker,” she said.
 
The Senate stopgap bill does not include language defunding ObamaCare or prioritizing debt payments in the event that Congress fails to raise the debt limit. Both elements were in the original House bill.
 
Threats from conservative activists are nothing new for Boehner. In March, Bozell blasted Boehner and other House GOP leaders for failing to deliver on the promises of the 2010 midterm election.
 
Boehner’s spokesman on Friday said the House would not approve a government funding bill that fails to address the Affordable Care Act.
 
“The House will take action that reflects the fundamental fact that Americans don’t want a government shutdown and they don’t want the train wreck that is ObamaCare,” said Brendan Buck.
 
House Republicans will meet at around noon on Saturday in the Capitol to plot their legislative strategy.
 
“We are reviewing our options and will discuss them with members tomorrow,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner. 
 
Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) announced Friday afternoon that he would offer an amendment to the stopgap bill delaying ObamaCare until 2015. The proposal has 61 supporters.
 
The mounting pressure from Tea Party groups and the tough rhetoric from House Republicans has alarmed senators who say a government shutdown appears more likely.
 
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said the situation is more unpredictable now than in 2011, when Congress teetered on the brink of a government shutdown and then a possible national default.
 
“Reading the tea leaves is more difficult. I think it is going to be difficult on the [funding bill] and it may be even more difficult on the debt ceiling,” Corker said. “I think it’s going to be tough for them.”
 
Even if congressional leaders avoid a shutdown, they will face another showdown in mid-October over the debt limit. The administration says the nation’s borrowing authority must be increased by Oct. 17.
 
President Obama on Friday said negotiating with Republicans on the government funding bill would only give them incentive to use the debt-ceiling and any future expiration of government funding as bargaining chips.
 
“The bill that's designed to avert a government shutdown basically just funds the government for another couple months, so we could be doing this all over again,” he said. “I'm sure the American people are thrilled about that. And that's why we've got to break this cycle.”
 
Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, said a shutdown is possible despite Senate passage of the stopgap.
 
“Some of the Democrats think they can provoke a shutdown and they can blame the Republicans for it,” he said.

House Republican leaders might focus now on trying to buy time, possibly by passing a weeklong stopgap.
 
A senior Senate GOP aide discounted that possibility, however.
 
“Passing a weeklong CR isn’t going to get you anywhere. Anything that can’t pass now won’t pass in a week or two weeks,” said the aide.
 
A Senate Democratic aide said Tea Party Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) would not allow Reid to waive procedural rules to approve a one-week stopgap quickly enough to avert a shutdown.
 
Lee declined to say whether he would grant consent in such a scenario.
 
“I’d have to think that through under the totality of the circumstances if we had something like that,” he said.

Cruz urged House Republicans to stand firm against any government funding bill that allows the implementation of the Affordable Care Act to move ahead. The law’s open-enrollment period begins Oct. 1.
 
“I hope and believe that when the House takes this up again House Republicans will continue to stand together on the side of the American people,” he said.
 
He said if the House returns the stopgap with new language defunding or delaying ObamaCare, “it will be an opportunity for every Senate Republican to come home, to stand for the principles we all share.”
 
He spoke to reporters shortly after 25 Senate Republicans voted to let the Senate version of the bill reach a final vote.
 
Erik Wasson, Bernie Becker and Russell Berman contributed to this report.