Why Are These Guys Smiling?

Updated: Sun., Sept. 29, 9:30 p.m. EDT: With just hours to spare before the deadline of a partial government shutdown, the Senate is scheduled to convene on Monday afternoon. A deal appeared elusive as Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) vowed that Democrats would kill a measure approved early Sunday by House Republicans to block President Barack Obama's health care law as a condition of federal funding. The bill also seeks to repeal a tax on medical devices.

Congress was closed, but Sunday was a day of great showmanship as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle took to the airwaves to argue their case and hurl blame at each other. 


"The House position, which is basically the same one they sent us the last time, is going to be rejected again," Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin, the chamber's second-ranking Democrat, said today on CBS' Face the Nation, according to Bloomberg News. Asked if he thought a government shutdown would occur, he said, "I'm afraid I do."

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) weighed in on NBC's Meet the Press, USA Today reports.

"The American people overwhelmingly reject Obamacare," Cruz said. "They understand it's not working. The only people who aren't listening to the argument are the career politicians in Washington." 


Updated: Sun., Sept. 29, 12:22 a.m. EDT: The federal government inched closer toward a shutdown Sunday after House Republicans voted 231-192 to block implementation of President Barack Obama's health care law as a condition for funding, MSNBC reports.

Updated: Sat., Sept. 28, 9:03 p.m. EDT: President Barack Obama and House Republicans traded barbs during tense negotiations on Saturday as a government shutdown hovered menacingly over a nation that still bears deep wounds from an intense economic downturn.

House Republicans demanded a one-year delay in the implementation of major parts of the new law and permanent repeal of a tax on medical devices, the Associated Press reports.

The White House, in turn, threatened to veto the measure while Democratic senators pledged its defeat even before it cleared the House. 


The Republican caucus, however, appeared to be in agreement on the stopgap measure and was expected to vote on it late Saturday night. They also discussed support for a measure to pay U.S. military troops in the event of a government shutdown. 

Updated: Fri., Sept. 27, 4:45 p.m. EDT: President Obama slammed House Republicans on Friday while urging Congress not to let the government shut down.


"So far the Republicans in the House of Representatives have refused to move forward, and here's the thing: Unlike the last time they threatened this course of action, this debate isn't really about deficits," Obama said. "Instead the House Republicans are so concerned with appeasing the Tea Party that they threaten government shutdown or, worse, unless I gut or repeal the Affordable Care Act. I said this yesterday, let me repeat it: That's not going to happen.

"My message to Congress is this: Do not shut down the government. Do not shut down the economy. Pass a budget on time. Pay our bills on time. Refocus on the everyday concerns of the American people," the president added in his televised statement. "There will be differences between Democrats and Republicans. We can have all kinds of conversations on how to resolve those differences … but do not threaten to burn the house down simply because you haven't gotten 100 percent of your way. That's not how a democracy is supposed to work."


Obama commended the Senate on passing its continuing resolution earlier that day, saying that the upper chamber "acted responsibly" and that it was now up to the House to finish the job. "I realize that a lot of what is taking place right now is political grandstanding, but this grandstanding has real effects on real people," Obama said. 


(The Root) — Once again Congress has backed itself into a corner, unable to come to an agreement on a spending bill for the upcoming fiscal year. In other words, a government shutdown is approaching, starting Oct. 1, barring any last-minute action from lawmakers.


Of course, the government would not entirely stop working, with essential services related to public safety, Social Security and Medicare, as well as national security, left untouched. However, the effects would nevertheless be massive, with more than 800,000 federal workers — those deemed "nonessential" — being furloughed. These include employees in the Internal Revenue Service and National Park Service and civilian employees at the Pentagon.

However, with the deadline just around the corner, Congress is still deadlocked, with no compromise in sight between House Republicans and the Democrat-led Senate.


Earlier Friday the Senate passed its continuing resolution to keep the government up and running but removed the language that defunded Obamacare a mere week after the House passed it. The tit-for-tat amendments are expected to continue, with the House expected to put the bill up for a vote over the weekend (and likely to reinstate the language to defund Obamacare) before sending it back to the Senate, which by then will be pressed for time.

Because this battle is mostly centered on a last-ditch attempt to repeal Obamacare — the health insurance exchanges will be opened the same day the government is due to shut down — the impact on the black community could be serious, depending on who comes out on the winning side of this clash.


According to the Department of Health and Human Services, when Obamacare fully goes into effect, 6.8 million uninsured African Americans will have the opportunity to get affordable health insurance coverage. Even now some positives can be felt, with more than 500,000 19- to 25-year-old African Americans receiving insurance through their parents and approximately 7.3 million African Americans with private insurance being able to access broader preventive services without additional copayments or deductibles.

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