Confederation Council Foundation for Africa Inc.,
Office of the Press Secretary
Remarks by the President Before Cabinet Meeting
5:19 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: This is my Cabinet. And we're going to be discussing the impacts, potentially, of a shutdown and how all of these various agencies will be managing to make sure the core essential functions continue, but also, obviously, to help try to manage what's going to be a very difficult potential situation for the employees of all of these agencies, who are doing outstanding and very difficult work all across the country.
So I appreciate all the members of the Cabinet who are here. They have been doing a lot of planning. I wish they were spending more time focusing on how to grow jobs and the economy as opposed to having to spend time figuring out how they manage a government shutdown. But as always, they're prepared. And we'll be getting a full briefing from the entire crew during the course of this meeting.
Thank you very much, everybody.
5:20 P.M. EDT
Office of the Press Secretary
Statement by the President
Congress continues to squabble on first day of a government shutdownTuesday, October 1st 2013
19 minutes ago
The Democrat-controlled Senate on Tuesday voted to table the House bill passed overnight that proposed the committee. The House bill also included language that would prohibit congressional staff members from receiving subsidies for their health care plans and delay Obamacare’s individual mandate to buy health insurance for one year.
By transitioning to a conference committee, the House and Senate would each appoint members to work out a deal to fund the government and end the shutdown. But appointing a committee would take the talks from public view to closed-door negotiating rooms where lawmakers and staffers could hash out their differences in private.
The Senate's refusal to accept the Republican proposal is the latest indication that the government shutdown, which began at midnight Tuesday, won't end immediately. This is the first shutdown since federal operations closed down under former President Bill Clinton in 1996
Before turning down the latest House offer Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that the upper chamber would not accept conference talks until the House approves a measure to fund the government for six weeks that includes no extra amendments such as the ones aimed at crippling the federal health care law. Until the House passes a “clean” bill, he said, negotiations would stall.
"We will not go to conference with a gun to our head,” Reid said on the Senate floor.
The result of a shutdown came after House Republicans repeatedly refused to pass a bill to set federal spending levels unless the federal health care law was defunded or delayed. Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama repeatedly said they would not accept any spending bill that tampers with the law.
Last week, the House passed a bill to completely defund the health law. When the Senate rejected it, the House passed another version that would have abolished a tax on medical devices and delayed the law for a year. When the Senate rejected that, House Republicans passed another bill that would have delayed the individual mandate and revoked health insurance subsidies for congressional staffers. After the Senate said no to that, the clock ran out and the government shut down. That’s when the House asked for private negotiations — surprise, the Senate turned that down — and that’s where the parties stand now.
Meanwhile, Obama, who has called on Congress to pass a clean bill to fund the government, called the shutdown “completely preventable.”
"This shutdown was completely preventable,” Obama wrote in a letter to federal employees. “It should not have happened."
Obama is scheduled to make a statement in the Rose Garden at 12:25 p.m. ET about the opening Tuesday of Obamacare insurance exchanges and about the government shutdown.
The back-and-forth between the parties will continue throughout the day, as House Republicans recalibrate their strategy and Senate lawmakers huddle for partisan meetings this afternoon.
Unless they can find a compromise, the government will remain shut down until further notice.
The Republican strategy of coupling anti-Obamacare legislation with the threat of a government shutdown is unpopular, according to a national Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday. American voters oppose the GOP's tactic by a ratio of 72 to 22 percent, according to the poll.
Yes, It Is John Boehner's Fault
It’s tempting to feel sorry for House Speaker John Boehner. He seems like a reasonable man caught in a trap. His Republican majority in the House can’t decide whether a repeal or delay of the Affordable Care Act needs to be a condition of any agreement on anything else. But Boehner, along with the rest of the Republican leadership at the time, built this trap for himself in 2009 and early 2010, before the Tea Party caucus was formed.
In 2009 the Republican minority, faced with what would eventually become the Affordable Care Act, he had a choice. Obama, like every President, wanted to pass something that someone might call a “bipartisan achievement.” To get that, he needed a couple of Republicans to make an offer, a price in exchange for their votes. The answer, from the entire caucus: nothing. No price, no votes. Under any conditions. There was extraordinary, Pelosi-like discipline among Republicans in the House and the Senate. No offer, no deal, no votes.
After a televised meeting with the president in late February of 2010, Boehner, then-Senator John Kyl (R-Ariz.), and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) huddled in front of the White House to answer questions. “What we think we ought to do is start over, go step by step, and target the areas of possible agreement,” said McConnell. “That’s why the bill needs to be scrapped,” said Boehner. “We need to start over on those things that we can work together on.”
Kyl, like Boehner and McConnell, agreed on some unspecified areas of future agreement. But those areas would not be reached by “tweaking” the bill, he said. “The whole concept of the bill, with its government mandates, its taxes, its spending, and all of the other features of it, are what make it unacceptable to us and to the American people,” said Kyl, “and that’s where we have to start.” McConnell then jumped in so that he, too, could say “scrap this bill.”
Scrap. Start over. Not tweakable. It was clever at the time. Sound reasonable but ensure that none of those reasonable-sounding ideas would accidentally become concessions in a bill made law. Adults could agree on modest steps to fix health care. But the Affordable Care Act was unfixable.
The next month, Obama sent a letter to Republicans, offering to expand tax-favored health savings accounts, more aggressively investigate Medicare fraud, and fund demonstration projects to seek alternatives to medical malpractice lawsuits. These had all been Republican ideas, but Boehner, in a statement, gave the same answer: “There is no reason to lump sensible proposals into a fundamentally flawed 2,000-page bill. … The American people want the President to start over with a clean sheet of paper.” Scrap it. Start over. It’s not tweakable.
It doesn’t matter whether this was a cynical strategy or a sincere act of political conviction. In 2010, Boehner sent a message to the party that was still his to lead: No part of this bill is acceptable. It cannot be allowed to pass. Period.
So now he’s stuck. He has a majority in one of the chambers of Congress, but he can’t use it to improve any aspect of health policy, because the Affordable Care Act—which is currently law, remember—is unfixable. He should not be surprised or frustrated that members of his own party have reached the obvious and logical conclusion to a strategy he signed off on three years ago. If Obamacare is unfixable and unacceptable, what kind of American would accept it? Why would we expect our politicians to do anything other than fight it in the air and on the sea?
Three years ago, this strategy nearly worked. Democrats had a tough time getting it together when Scott Brown (R-Mass.) entered the Senate and it looked like they’d need a single Republican vote to pass the bill. We should not feel too badly for John Boehner or any member of the Republican leadership that the rhetorical stand they took in 2010 is proving such a bother now.