A federal government shutdown officially began Tuesday after Congress failed to reach an agreement on a short-term funding measure.
Thousands of federal workers, more than 150,000 of them Latinos, will be placed on furlough, and many government services will be disrupted, though benefit payments, military pay and national security operations will continue.
The announcement came after the Senate rejected for the third time a House funding proposal which would have significantly delayed the new health insurance law. The Republican-led House voted to fund the government until mid-December, but at the same time delay the individual mandate to buy health insurance by one year and prohibit congressional staff members from participating in federal insurance subsidies under the health care program law. The Senate refused to budge on stripping or delaying the health care law.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, ended the night forming a conference committee to negotiate differences between the House and Senate budget bills, but Reid and other Senate leaders rebuffed the overture saying Republicans were calling them to negotiate while holding a gun to their head, the threat of a shutdown.
Conservative Republicans have defended their staunch opposition to Obamacare.
…The question is: is the law ready at this time? Is it ready for prime time? It’s not ready for prime time at this moment,” said Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, on Sunday’s Meet the Press. “I would repeal the law, I would get rid completely of the law but all we are asking in the House of Representatives is a one year delay.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who last week spoke against the Affordable Care Act for 21 hours straight on the Senate floor, called the health care law the “biggest job killer in this country.”
But as the shutdown became a reality late Monday night, Democratic legislators blasted their Republican colleagues, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the Tea Party members “anarchists.”
“Tea Party politicians may be financially insulated from the hurt of a government shutdown, but they should put themselves in the shoes of average Americans who will suffer the pain of not working on Tuesday morning because of this fabricated budget crisis,” said Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “Harming our economy and weakening middle class families – it doesn’t get more out of touch than that.”
Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Texas, said he would donate his congressional salary to a charity during the shutdown.
“It is unconscionable that working Americans across the country are going to be sent home without pay while members of Congress continue to receive a paycheck,” said Gallego. Mothers and fathers who commit themselves to public service are going to have to figure out how to put food on the table, make rent or pay their mortgage – all because a reckless few refuse to compromise.”
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, also announced plans to donate his salary.
It wasn’t just the Democrats who said they would donate their salary during the shutdown. Cruz said he would do the same after days earlier having said he would not. “Elected leaders should not be treated better than the American people, which is precisely why hardworking Americans deserve the same Obamacare exception that President Obama has already granted Members of Congress.”
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said on the Senate floor that the reason the Republicans are so opposed to the Affordable Care Act is they are afraid it will succeed, and they are introducing “a poison pill to make it fail.”
Menendez added that “this is a battle for the soul of the Republican Party; unfortunately they are playing it out in a way that affects the entire country.”