The federal government shut down at 12:01 Tuesday morning after Congress failed to pass a continuing resolution to fund government operations. The tea party faction of the House refused to approve any funding bill that maintained spending for the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, while Senate Democrats refused to approve such a bill that did defund the law.
The two houses sent bills back and forth all weekend leading up to the midnight deadline. Over vocal protests from tea party freshman Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, the Democratic Senate stripped out the defund Obamacare provision of the House bill. Democrats said that voiding the 2010 law passed by both houses was not negotiable.
Monday Republicans tried a new tactic: Rather than defunding Obamacare altogether in a continuing resolution, they sought to delay the implementation of the law's individual mandate as well as repeal a tax on medical devices that would provide funding for the law. Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio called it "a matter of fairness for all Americans" that the individual mandate be delayed one year.
"The president provided a one year delay of the employer mandate," said Boehner. "We believe that everyone should be treated fairly."
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that this new approach would also be a nonstarter in his chamber. "To be absolutely clear, the Senate will reject both the one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of the medical device tax," he said. "We continue to be willing to debate these issues in a calm and rational atmosphere. But the American people will not be extorted by Tea Party anarchists."
President Obama, who made clear he would veto any spending bill that included language to defund his signature health care law, spoke Monday afternoon in the lead up to the shutdown. He said the nation's lawmaking body was not fulfilling its constitutional obligations to pass a budget and pay America's bills.
"One faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government doesn't get to shut down the entire government just to refight the results of the election," he said. "You don't get to exact a ransom just for doing your job."
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- Read Jamie Chandler: A Government Shutdown Would Show Just How Silly Congress Has Become
- Read Peter Roff: Why President Obama and Democrats Want a Government Shutdown
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