Poll on U.S. government shutdown spells trouble for Republicans

WASHINGTON Mon Sep 23, 2013 1:30pm EDT

A traffic sign is seen near the U.S. Capitol building in Washington March 1, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

A traffic sign is seen near the U.S. Capitol building in Washington March 1, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As Republican lawmakers pushed ahead on Monday with a campaign to scuttle President Barack Obama's healthcare program, a survey suggested that they risk a public backlash should their efforts lead to a government shutdown or a default.

The CNBC poll reported that by a 59-19 percent margin, respondents opposed linking defunding of "Obamacare" to a possible shutdown starting on October 1, or to a failure to raise the government's borrowing authority, meaning Washington may not be able to pay all of its bills by sometime in October or early November.

Eighteen percent were undecided, according to nationwide poll of 800 people conducted by Hart-McInturff. It had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

On Friday Republicans in the House of Representatives passed and sent to the Senate a measure that would make continued funding of the government contingent on defunding Obamacare. The bill passed on a mostly partisan vote of 230-189.

They plan a similar strategy when they take up a measure to raise the debt ceiling, which if defeated could lead to a government default.

The Democratic-controlled Senate will take up the House spending bill later on Monday. Democrats expect to send it back to the House by Sunday with the Obamacare provision stripped out, according to a Senate Democratic aide.

That timetable guarantees a down-to-the wire battle through next weekend, with little time for the House to respond to the Senate action.

The long Republican war against "Obamacare" is at the heart of the clashes ahead, just as important provisions of that law start taking effect on October 1.

The only certainty is that when the dust settles, Obamacare will still be standing. Neither the Senate nor the Democratic president will agree to a bill delaying the program, signed into law by Obama in March, 2010, to provide health coverage for millions of uninsured Americans.


The clash is a potentially defining moment for Republicans, who are badly divided over the anti-Obamacare tactic being pursued by the House.

Influential conservatives, including senior Republicans in the Senate, strategist Karl Rove and Fox News broadcaster Bill O'Reilly have called it futile, warning that a shutdown could seriously damage Republicans on the eve of the 2014 mid-term elections.

Congressional authorization for the government to spend money runs out at the end of the fiscal year on September 30.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has made it clear that he will work this week to delete the House Republicans' provision defunding Obamacare.

The first important vote on the House-passed Obamacare spending bill could come by mid-week when Reid might stage a vote on a "motion to proceed," which basically asks the Senate's permission to debate a bill.

Sixty votes in the 100-member Senate likely will be required to approve this procedural move. Democrats control 54 votes -including those of two independents - versus 46 for Republicans.

It was thought that Republicans would surely vote to begin debate on a bill that aims to kill the healthcare law that they hate. But Senator Ted Cruz of Texas could make a filibuster stand at that point, slowing down the process, if nothing else.


Cruz, and to some extent his ally, Senator Mike Lee of Utah, have "gone rogue" on the Republican establishment in the Senate, with Cruz in particular the subject of bitter attack from some of his colleagues for traveling around the country urging a "no surrender" strategy on Obamacare.

If the motion to proceed passes, the Senate would then move to the bill itself with a Democratic amendment to strike the Obamacare provision.

Cruz could try again to slow or block the process by filibustering. Again, 60 votes would be needed move forward.

Winning that second procedural vote would open the door for Reid to then easily destroy the Obamacare provision, leaving the government funding part of the bill alive.

From there, Reid could push to pass the bill, again relying on just the 54 Democratic votes he controls, and then send the bill back to the House.

After the Senate finishes, the measure to fund the government must then return to the House. By then, October 1 will be looming.


House Republicans next week hope to unveil a second important bill - one to prevent the U.S. government from defaulting on its debt sometime in October or November.

The legislation would raise the country's $16.7 trillion borrowing limit. Republicans again want to extract something from Democrats in return for the debt limit hike.

They have been talking about attaching yet another plan to the debt limit bill that would gut or delay portions of Obamacare, as well as forcing approval of the Keystone oil pipeline that would run from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

House Republicans say they also are looking at some tax provisions to possibly add onto the debt limit bill.

Obama has warned Republicans against loading up the debt limit bill with unrelated items, saying he will not negotiate on a measure that in effect pays the government's outstanding bills.

Passage of a loaded-up debt limit bill in the House likely would trigger a rerun of the stop-gap spending fight that is consuming Washington now.

The battle over the shutdown and the debt ceiling is to some extent a repeat of fiscal showdowns that have taken up much of the past three years, since Republicans took control of the House in the 2010 elections.

With every one of them, standing of Congress among Americans, never very high, has sunk even lower.

(Reporting By Richard Cowan; Editing by Fred Barbash and Xavier Briand)

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Comments (28)
It is futile. Neither side is willing to compromise, period. There are as many radical Democrats as there are radical Republicans in Congress and the Senate. The American people pay the price for this stubborn behavior of our exalted elected lawmakers. No one believed that sequestration would ever be implemented, but it has, so there is no telling how low this confrontation will go.

Sep 23, 2013 3:55am EDT  --  Report as abuse
morbas wrote:
The article presents a broad T’Rxpublican oligarchical front, it needs to be stretched by a Liberality Democratic front; a tax initiative that balances expenditure of the big government conservatives in a manner untaxing subsistence. Addressing an unbalanced wealth 30% growth at ‘top 2%’, while ‘the 98%’ wages are (greater than 10x) stagnant.
The House of Representatives has the sole authority of taxation and can look no where else to shed it’s purpose of meeting obligations. The House failure requires a solution mandated by the people, get to it; we can throw off the Grey Oligarchic Partisans (GOP) Corporate America gambit. Let us end our enslavement to the Oligarchs.
To: Office of Senator ____________________
United States Senate Washington,
D.C. 20510

To: Office of Representative_________________________
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

We the people of this United States do proclaim this federal government ‘of, by and for the people’. That, in order to fairly distribute revenue burden, to satisfy ‘net income’ progressive taxation, to balance all governments budgets, and to not tax poverty;
The people mandate:
Income National Tax code that shall use margin graduated income tax principle: Margin $30k 0% single, $60K 0% joint, income above this a linear increasing rate {Income-[$30k or $60k])*(Income/$800k)*90%; 90% limit} . Exemptions shall be prohibited. The Federal Reserve shall amend the (90%) threshold, and control currency printing mandated to maintaining currency availability and value. The Federal Reserve shall set the Margin rate value well (>2x) above highest of all State Poverty Level(s). Revenue shall be proportioned 1/3rd Federal,1/3rd State proportioned per cast ballot and 1/3rd Local proportioned per cast ballot.
This National Tax is a peoples tax, no other citizen taxation shall be permitted. Business shall not be taxed. The Federal Reserve shall control taxation. The people will by simple majority approve or reject all margin and rate changes at every Congressional House Representative election year ballot.

Sep 23, 2013 7:17am EDT  --  Report as abuse
spagester wrote:
There won’t be a shut down. They’ll bicker publicly and make back room deals that will cost the taxpayers billions of dollars. Then they’ll go get a loan from China to pay for it all. Both parties are despicable.

Sep 23, 2013 7:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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