Boehner: Obama Has Slammed Door on Opening Government

Tuesday, 01 Oct 2013 08:36 PM

By Todd Beamon

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House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday blamed President Barack Obama for the first partial shutdown of the federal government in 17 years, blaming his "scorched-Earth policy of refusing to negotiate in [a] bipartisan way on his health care law, current government funding or the debt limit."

"The president isn't telling the whole story when it comes to the government shutdown," the Ohio Republican said in an op-ed piece in USA Today. "The fact is that Washington Democrats have slammed the door on reopening the government by refusing to engage in bipartisan talks.

Urgent: Should GOP Stick to Its Guns on Obamacare? Vote Here.

"And, as stories across the country highlight the devastating impact of Obamacare on families and small businesses, they continue to reject our calls for fairness for all Americans," Boehner said.

The federal government shut down at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday after the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House refused to reach an agreement on a proposal to temporarily finance the government through mid-December.

The last time the federal government closed was for a total of 28 days between November 1995 and January 1996.

The current impasse came over House GOP insistence that funds not be included for Obamacare, the president's signature healthcare law that also took effect on Tuesday.

Throughout the weekend, House proposals evolved from a total defunding of Obamacare, to delaying the healthcare proposal for individual Americans for one year.

Still, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid repeatedly said that the upper chamber would only pass a "clean" continuing resolution to keep the government operating — stripped of any language regarding Obamacare — and the president said he would veto any legislation that defunded or delayed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act .

And on Tuesday, Obama blamed Republicans for an "ideological crusade" aimed at his healthcare program and urged legislators to keep government operations running without conditions.

"They've shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans," the president said in the White House Rose Garden.

"Many Representatives have made it clear that had they been allowed by Speaker Boehner to take a simple up or down vote on keeping government open with no strings attached, enough votes from both parties would have kept the American people's government open and operating," Obama said.

But in his op-ed, Boehner carefully detailed Republican efforts over the weekend to keep the government operating and blasted the Democrats and Obama for their refusal to negotiate on any spending plan that included Obamacare language.

"As of this morning, Senate Democrats, acting in concert with President Obama, have rejected four different proposals from the House of Representatives to keep the government running and fund basic services," Boehner said.

On Friday, for instance, the Speaker said, "the House of Representatives passed legislation to keep the government running — funding Medicare, Social Security, veterans benefits, and more — while removing funding for the president's health care law, which is driving up costs and hurting our economy.

"The Democratic-controlled Senate rejected this measure," Boehner said.

The next day, Saturday, "the House passed another measure to keep the government running, delay the president's health care law for one year, and permanently repeal Obamacare's tax on pacemakers and children's hearing aids," he added.

"Senate Democrats rejected the measure on a party-line vote."

Boehner further noted that the House also voted to continue paying the nation's military personnel should the government shut down. "Thankfully, that measure was adopted by the Senate and signed by President Obama," he said.

Then, on Monday, another measure to keep the government operating was passed by the House — and it also sought to "ensure fairness for all Americans under the president's health care law," Boehner added.

"President Obama delayed the law's mandates on big businesses and insurance companies; this bill would delay the law for everyone.

Urgent: Should GOP Stick to Its Guns on Obamacare? Vote Here.

"The Senate rejected this measure too."

And later on Monday, the House sought "a formal conference committee with the Senate to come to an agreement on legislation that provides funding for the federal government and delays the president's health care law for all Americans," the Speaker said. "That is the system the Founding Fathers gave us to resolve differences between the House and Senate.

"The Senate then opposed that measure as well, so Senate Democrats and President Obama got their government shutdown."

Looking ahead to the negotiations on extending the federal government's borrowing authority to avert the first-ever default on the nation's credit obligations, Boehner said, "Congress must act to raise the debt limit to pay the tab for President Obama and Washington's out-of-control spending.

"There is no way Congress can or should pass such a bill without spending cuts and reforms to deal with the debt and deficit and help get our economy moving again. But President Obama refuses to even talk about negotiating such a bipartisan agreement.

"For years," Boehner added, "the president has said that in a divided government, no one gets 100 percent of what they want.

"But when will his words match his actions?" he asked.

The Speaker concluded by reiterating his longstanding position on how the House Republicans would work during these negotiations.

"We will continue our efforts to keep the government running and deal honestly with the problems we face," he said. "We hope that Senate Democrats, and President Obama, change course and start working with us on behalf of the American people."


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