STEPHANIE CONDON / CBS NEWS/ September 30, 2013
With hours left to avert a government shutdown, House Republicans on Monday said that they're unwilling to let go of their insistence that a government spending bill include language to dismantle parts of the Affordable Care Act.
"What our members want is fairness for the American people," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters. He argued that since President Obama has delayed the health care law's employer mandate, the individual mandate should be delayed for a year as well.
Boehner said he will bring a bill to the floor Monday that delays the individual mandate, even though the Democratic-led Senate has already rejected such a proposal twice. The latest House bill will also eliminate federal subsidies for congressional staff to buy health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges.
Asked whether the House could vote any time today on a spending bill without the Obamacare amendments, Boehner said, "That's not going to happen."
Congress now has less than 10 hours before authorized government spending runs out and some federal operations shut down.
President Obama later Monday afternoon chided House Republicans for using federal funding to negotiate over Obamacare, calling it "the height of irresponsibility."
"You don't get to extract a ransom for doing your job, for doing what you're supposed to be doing anyway," Mr. Obama said.
He pointed out that in the event of a government shutdown, hundreds of thousands of federal employees will go to work without pay while several hundred thousand will be furloughed without pay.
"I think it's important everybody understand the federal government is America's largest employer," he said. "A shutdown will have a very real economic impact on real people, right away."
He also pointed out that, regardless of what Congress does, the major parts of the Affordable Care Act will stay intact. In fact, open enrollment will begin on the Obamacare exchanges Tuesday no matter what.
"You can't shut it down," the president said.
In spite of the current stalemate, Mr. Obama said he is confident "in the 11th hour once again Congress will do the right thing."
Late Monday afternoon, the president placed calls to Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to check in on the status of legislation going forward, White House and Capitol Hill sources told CBS News' Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett. No breakthrough has been achieved, the president was told.
Boehner's spokesman Brendan Buck later emailed a statement to reporters detailing the call.
"The speaker told the president that Obamacare is costing jobs and that American families are being denied basic fairness when big businesses are getting exemptions that they are not," Buck said. "The call lasted nearly ten minutes."
Mr. Obama said earlier in the day that he's "not at all resigned" to a government shutdown. He added that he expects to speak to congressional leaders "today, tomorrow and the next day, but there's a pretty straightforward solution to this if you set aside the short-term politics and you look at the long term here."
Earlier in the day, the Senate passed a bill to fund the government through mid-November by a party-line vote of 54 to 46. The bill passed after it was stripped of the Republican-added language relating to Obamacare.
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