Budget Negotiations Enter Final Stage

Congressional Republicans appear willing to delay a fight on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), allowing the federal government to remain open into the next fiscal year that begins October 1.

House Republicans had passed a spending bill that stripped funding for the health care law, setting up a potential showdown between the Democratically-controlled Senate and the Republican-majority House of Representatives. Now, news outlets are reporting that the House is working to approve a measure to keep the government open, without the controversial provisions to defund the ACA.

New insurance marketplaces mandated by the ACA will launch October 1 in most states, selling plans to help low- and middle-income Americans afford health insurance.

If the two sides fail to come to a deal, the federal government would begin shutting down at the end of September. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees would be furloughed, many government services would be suspended or limited, and the economy as a whole would take a major hit.  

Instead, media reports indicate that Republicans, led by the most extreme members of their party, will leverage the nation’s debt ceiling, which will need to be raised by October 17 for the country to avoid its first-ever default on its debt, in order to defund the health care law. The hotly-contested 2011 battle over the debt ceiling resulted in the downgrade of the country’s credit rating for the first time in history.

President Obama appears adamant that he will not accept changes to the health care law as a condition for raising the debt ceiling.

“No Congress before this one has ever, ever in history been irresponsible enough to threaten default,” Obama said. “I will not negotiate on anything when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States of America.”