South Bend, Ind. The Local Picture
Both Indiana U.S. Senators were in South Bend for the Notre Dame game on Saturday and while they were in town to cheer on the Irish, they didn’t hesitate to send messages to their constituents on the looming government shutdown.
Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., both said that a government shutdown would be detrimental to Indiana and to the nation’s economy overall.
“We have soldiers in Afghanistan defending our freedoms and around the world and their families will not get checks,” Coats said. “Some of them live check to check. Our veterans will be affected. Our economy will be affected. I take a back seat to no one in terms of wanting to get this thing fixed, but I just think shutting down the government is the wrong way to do it.”
Donnelly agreed that some compromise is in order.
“It is so Hoosier common sense that we ought to work together,” Donnelly said. “Make sure that as we move forward there’s good health care for all. This is not that complicated, we just have to look at what's right for America and not worry about politics.”
Although, it might be easier said than done. The main point of contention in passing a continuing resolution to fund the government is the possible addition of an amendment that would defund the healthcare law.
“Republicans think the plan is not working -- they would like to repeal it and replace it with something more workable,” Coats said. “I think replace is important because we do have to address health care issues.”
Although Coats was careful to note that he did not believe a government shutdown should be used as a tool to achieve that goal.
“Knowing that we don't have the votes to beat it, that it doesn't defund it if we go forward, shutting down the government doesn't serve the purpose for this,” he said.
Donnelly said that at this point, politics should be set aside.
“I’ve tried to do this the responsible way,” he said. “Play it down the middle, not worry about the politics.”
The National Picture
Locked in a deepening struggle with President Barack Obama, the Republican-controlled House pushed legislation toward passage Saturday night requiring a one-year delay in parts of the nation's new health care law and repeal of a tax on medical devices as the price for avoiding a partial government shutdown in a few days' time.
Senate Democrats pledged to reject the measure even before the House began debating it, and the White House issued a statement vowing a veto in any event. Republicans are pursuing "a narrow ideological agenda" that threatens the nation's economy, it said.
Undeterred, House Republicans pressed ahead with their latest attempt to squeeze a concession from the White House in exchange for letting the government open for business normally on Tuesday.
"I think we have a winning program here," said Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, after days of discord that pitted Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and his leadership against tea party-backed conservatives.
Another Republican, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, reacted angrily when asked whether he would eventually support a standalone spending bill if needed to prevent a shutdown. "How dare you presume a failure? How dare you? How dare you?" he said.
Apart from its impact on the health care law, the legislation that House Republicans decided to back would assure routine funding for government agencies through Dec. 15. A companion measure headed for approval assures U.S. troops are paid in the event of a shutdown.
The government spending measure marked something of a reduction in demands by House Republicans, who passed legislation several days ago that would permanently strip the health care law of money while providing funding for the government.
It also contained significant concessions from a party that long has criticized the health care law for imposing numerous government mandates on industry, in some cases far exceeding what Republicans have been willing to support in the past.
GOP aides said that under the legislation headed toward a vote, portions of the health law that already have gone into effect would remain unchanged. That includes requirements for insurance companies to guarantee coverage for pre-existing conditions and to require children to be covered on their parents' plans until age 26. It would not change a part of the law that reduces costs for seniors with high prescription drug expenses.
Instead, the measure would delay implementation of a requirement for all individuals to purchase coverage or face a penalty, and of a separate feature of the law that will create marketplaces where individuals can shop for coverage from private insurers.
By repealing the medical device tax, the GOP measure also would raise deficits - an irony for a party that won the House majority in 2010 by pledging to get the nation's finances under control.
The Senate rejected the most recent House-passed anti-shutdown bill on a party-line vote of 54-44 Friday, insisting on a straightforward continuation in government funding without health care-related add-ons.
That left the next step up to the House - with time to avert a partial shutdown growing ever shorter.
-- courtesy of the Associated Press.