Clock Ticks on Deadlocked Congress

With Congress unable to reach an agreement, shutdown appears to be inevitable. The latest: Obama speaks.

Sen. Harry Reid (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Sen. Harry Reid (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Updated Mon., Sept 30, 5:30 p.m. EDT: President Obama once again took the stage Monday afternoon, calling on Congress, particularly House Republicans, to come to a resolution before time runs out on the federal budget.

“You don’t get to extract a ransom for doing your job, for doing what you’re supposed to be doing anyway. Or just because there’s a law there that you don’t like,” Obama said at a White House press conference, slamming House Republicans. “We’ve worked too hard for too long to recover from previous crises, just to have folks here in Washington manufacture yet another one that they have to dig themselves out of.” 

The president reiterated some of his Friday speech, calling out Congress on its two responsibilities: to pass the budget and pay America’s bills on time. However, this time he spent much of his speech clearly outlining the effects of a government shutdown and the people who will be affected by it, while making it obvious that he thinks the House is the cause of the current deadlock. 

“All of this is entirely preventable if the House chooses to do what the Senate has already done, and that’s the simple act of funding our government without making extraneous and controversial demands in the process,” he said. “A shutdown will have a very real economical impact on real people right away.

“Congress needs to keep our government open, needs to pay our bills on time and never, ever threaten the full faith and credit of the United States of America,” the president continued. “Time’s running out. My hope and expectation is that in the 11th hour once again that Congress will choose to do the right thing and that the House of Representatives in particular will choose to do the right thing.”

Updated Mon., Sept. 30, 2:30 p.m. EDT: The Senate predictably rejected, 54-46, the House bill presented over the weekend, indicating a clear ideological divide. This puts the House back in the spotlight as it is left with the choice either to reject the Senate bill and reinstate measures to delay or defund Obamacare or to actually pass the Senate’s bill. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), along with other Republicans of the chamber, has been considering quickly passing a one-week continuing resolution just to keep the government funded while the back-and-forth amendments continue.

“Despite the Democrats’ refusal to work with the House to solve the problem, Republicans are working to protect the troops, prevent a shutdown and find solutions to the difficulties caused by Senate Democrats’ delays,” said McConnell spokesman Don Stewart, according to the Washington Post.

Despite the federal budget deadline drawing closer and closer, President Barack Obama remains optimistic, saying that he is not “at all resigned” to a shutdown, while backing the Senate’s short-term bill that leaves the Affordable Care Act intact. He also said he was “eager” to talk about a more long-term spending plan once the current battle was (temporarily) resolved. “The only way we can do that is for everybody to sit down in good faith and without threatening to harm the public,” Obama said, according to the Post. “There can be no meaningful negotiations under a cloud of default.”