The Looming Shutdown: Senate Rejects House Bill

September 30, 2013

Moving quickly, on Monday, the Senate voted 54-46 to reject a House continuing resolution that would avert a government shutdown but would delay the implementation of President Obama's signature law, the Affordable Care Act.

With just hours left before the government runs out of authority to spend money, the ball is now in Speaker John Boehner's court.

If you haven't kept up, here's where we are: The Republican-controlled House wants to stop the implementation of Obamacare, so they're adding language to the bill that funds government operations to do just that. For example, in this latest iteration, the language would have delayed the implementation of the healthcare law for a year; in a previous iteration, the House had stripped funding for the healthcare law.

The Democratically-controlled Senate has said they will not negotiate, so they've asked for a so-called "clean continuing resolution." That is, a resolution that funds the government, but has no added language about Obamacare.

Of course, if the Senate and House can't agree to something by midnight, the government will not be authorized to spend any more money, and a good deal of the federal government — like museums, tax audits, loan processing by the Federal Housing Administration and federal occupational health and safety inspections — will go dark.

As you can imagine, these final hours in Congress will be filled with high-stakes drama. We'll keep this post updated with the latest, so hit the refresh button often.

Update at 3:17 p.m. ET. Using Email Is Illegal:

If the government shuts down, furloughed federal employees will not be able to check email.

No, really: The Washington Post reports some will have to hand over their mobile devices and for those who keep them, checking email would be illegal. The paper reports:

"Federal employees who do check their inboxes will technically be breaking an obscure law known as the Antideficiency Act, which was passed over a hundred years ago and carries a penalty of fines or even imprisonment."

Update at 2:56 p.m. ET. Not Going To Be Bullied:

"The fate of the country depends on the House," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said during a news conference minutes ago, in which he reiterated that the Senate would not negotiate and will not accept anything other than a clean continuing resolution.

"With a bully, you cannot let them slap you around. We are not going to be bullied," Reid said.

Update at 2:47 p.m. ET. The House GOP Huddles:

Politico reports that Republican leaders in the House are meeting to weigh their options, now that the Senate has expectedly rejected their bill.

The politics site reports that a few options are on the table: One of them would cobble up Republican and Democratic votes in the House to pass a clean continuing resolution. This is the option most likely to avert a shutdown.

The others don't take on the entire Affordable Care Act, but on parts of it. One option would repeal "Medicare's Independent Payment Advisory Board and the medical device tax" and the other would "attach a one-year repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate."

Story source: NPR