GOP Considers Alternatives To Government Shutdown

Republicans are exploring a possible new strategy: shifting the fight over President Barack Obama’s health-care law to a separate bill that would raise the nation's debt limit. Other media outlets report that the debt limit deadline is Oct. 17 -- about two weeks earlier than had been anticipated.

The Washington Post: House Republicans Explore Strategy To Avoid Federal Government Shutdown
With federal agencies set to close their doors in five days, House Republicans began exploring a potential detour on the path to a shutdown: shifting the fight over President Obama’s health-care law to a separate bill that would raise the nation's debt limit. If it works, the strategy could clear the way for the House to approve a simple measure to keep the government open into the new fiscal year, which will begin Tuesday, without hotly contested provisions to defund the Affordable Care Act (Montgomery and Eilperin, 9/25).

Politico: Republicans Shun Shutdown But Flirt With Default
A large number of Senate and House Republicans are raising the threat of a debt default to curtail, delay or defund President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. It’s a major gamble — risking the prospect of a first-ever default on U.S. debt — but it’s one seriously being considered by the same Republicans who have refused to join Cruz’s filibuster attempt of the stopgap spending bill to keep the government running (Raju and Sherman, 9/25).

Bloomberg: Boehner Beset By Obamacare Foes In Race To Stave Off Shutdown
John Boehner helped start the clock running on a government shutdown. It's up to him to stop it. The U.S. House speaker’s choice -- between keeping the government running and continuing to fight the nation’s three-year-old health-care law -- has implications for the 2014 congressional elections and, potentially, his future. The Ohio Republican has a tough decision to make. He can keep up the fight against Obamacare when the Senate sends back a spending bill in coming days, making a shutdown more likely. Or, he can fund the government with the help of Democratic votes, and risk alienating a band of Republican newcomers who’ve already tried once to oust him as speaker (Bender, 9/25).

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Running Out Of Cash More Quickly
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the government would be left with just $30 billion cash on hand "no later" than Oct. 17, and the Congressional Budget Office predicted these funds would be used up between Oct. 22 and Oct. 31 if legislation isn't enacted to raise the ceiling on government borrowing. That little cash could make it difficult, if not impossible, for the government to pay the roughly $55 billion in Social Security, Medicare and military payments due Nov. 1 (Paletta and Peterson, 9/25).

The Washington Post: New Debt Limit Deadline Is Oct. 17
The Oct. 17 deadline comes about two weeks earlier than some independent analysts had predicted. Nancy Vanden Houten, an analyst at Stone McCarthy, said that while she does not have as much information as Treasury, she sees no reason why Treasury would run out of money before Nov. 1, when large payments are due to Social Security recipients, Medicare providers and active-duty service members (Montgomery, 9/25).

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Eyes A New Fiscal Prize With Health-Law Push
In this fall's fiscal showdowns, the long-held Republican goal of extracting spending cuts and other deficit-reduction measures has been eclipsed by the party's drive to stop the federal health-care law. The result has been to inject more volatility and uncertainty into debate on crucial measures to keep the government open and solvent. Amid the fireworks over the health law, some Republicans worry that any drive to address the long-term debt problem is suffering from neglect (Hook, 9/25).

CQ HealthBeat: Some Republicans Back Changes To Health Care Law, But Differ On Strategy
Although some GOP lawmakers are pushing for complete defunding of the law — as proposed by the House-passed short-term spending bill (H J Res 59) — others have indicated they could accept other modifications and do not want to shut down the government while trying for full defunding. "I hate Obamacare; I’d do anything to get rid of it," said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah. "On the other hand, I do want to see an end result that’s favorable. And that’s the real issue here" (Ethridge, 9/25).

Los Angeles Times: Senate Votes 100-0 To Move Ahead On Debate Over Obamacare
The Senate easily overcame Wednesday’s first hurdle to a fizzling GOP strategy to strip funding for President Obama’s healthcare law in exchange for keeping the government running. Top Republicans are now for a new — more modest — way to chip away at the Affordable Care Act. Time is not on their side after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) monopolized the floor in his lonely filibuster-like campaign. Money for routine government operations is set to run out Oct. 1, unless Congress acts (Mascaro, 9/25).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Shutdown Showdown Looms: Unanimous Senate Vote Masks Deep Disagreements Over Health Care Law
The vote came shortly after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz held the Senate in session overnight — and the Twitterverse in his thrall — with a near-22-hour speech that charmed the tea party wing of the GOP, irritated the leadership and was meant to propel fellow Republican lawmakers into an all-out struggle to extinguish the law (9/25).

Bloomberg: Senate Spending Bill Moves Set Up House Obamacare Fight
The Senate is accelerating debate on a bill that would avert a U.S. government shutdown as Senate Republicans sought to buy time for their House counterparts to take another swipe at President Barack Obama’s health care law. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's move yesterday to speed up consideration of the spending bill means House Republicans will have it sooner than expected -- minus language stripping Obamacare funds though with more time before a Sept. 30 shutdown deadline to restore a provision limiting the law’s reach (Rubin, Tiron and Hunter, 9/25)

Meanwhile, a new poll shows that half of Americans say Republicans should not hold the budget hostage to their defunding effort -

Bloomberg: Americans Reject Effort To End Obamacare Amid Ad Barrage
Half of Americans say Republicans should stop demanding that President Barack Obama's health-care plan be defunded as part of legislation to keep the government running even as they voice concern about the law’s impact. Three in five people say they think the law will raise medical-care costs, and more say they will be worse off than better off under it, according to a Bloomberg National Poll. At the same time, by a margin of 50 percent to 43 percent, Americans say congressional Republicans should accept that it's the law of the land, according to the Sept. 20-23 poll (Przybyla, 9/25).

In related news, the leading Democratic and Republican backers of a bill to repeal the medical device tax say the government funding bill is not the place to wage that fight -

Politico: Amy Klobuchar, Orrin Hatch Warn Against Repealing Medical Device Tax Now
The leading Senate backers of a push to repeal the medical device tax are warning that the government funding bill currently under consideration isn't the right venue for this fight. "Right now, it's not part of the strategy," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the leading Democratic sponsor of legislation that would repeal the 2.3 percent levy on device manufacturers (Blade and Snell, 9/25).

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