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Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Health Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” was signed into law in March 2010. The statute represents a major overhaul of the country’s healthcare system — the most substantial since Medicare and Medicaid were initiated in 1965.

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obama on shutdown

Washington (CNN) — Republicans forced an unnecessary budget crisis in their single-minded effort to dismantle health care reforms, President Barack Obama said Tuesday as frustration spread across Washington and the country on the first day of a government shutdown.

In some of his strongest criticism so far, Obama said the shutdown intended to hinder government efforts to provide health insurance to 15% of the U.S. population that doesn’t have coverage, adding it was “strange that one party would make keeping people uninsured the centerpiece of their agenda.”

The stalemate in Congress that caused the shutdown to begin on Tuesday continued with Senate Democrats voting for a fourth time to reject a spending plan by House Republicans that sought to undermine Obamacare.


This time, the House proposal also included a call for a conference committee to seek a compromise, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Democrats turned down the package because it amounted to extortion by Republicans to force concessions on Obama’s signature health care reforms.

Reid said the Senate wants to negotiate a budget with the House, “but not with the government closed.”

“We’re not going to relitigate the health care issue,” Reid said after the latest Senate vote, calling for the House to now approve a “clean” spending plan to fund the government for a few months before separate negotiations on possible changes to the 2010 Affordable Care Act. “It’s time for Republicans to stop obsessing over old battles.”

However, sources in the House Republican leadership told CNN on Tuesday that they plan a series of separate votes to fund specific government departments or agencies, starting with spending for veterans, the District of Columbia and the Park Service.

Some conservatives led by GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas have called for such a strategy, which would force opponents to vote against authorizing spending for popular programs such as veterans affairs.

Under the scenario described by Cruz, the piecemeal spending plan would be a way to defund Obamacare on a step-by-step basis.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the new GOP strategy was “not a serious approach.”

The shutdown occurred when a game of political chicken ended in failure in the first minutes of Tuesday, with neither side blinking.

That brought the outcome nobody said they wanted — a shutdown that will stop 800,000 Americans from getting paid and could cost the economy about $1 billion a week.

“Agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a note to federal employees.

It is the first time the government has shut down in nearly 18 years. The last time it happened, during the Clinton administration, the stalemate lasted 21 days.

Now, the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate will try to see if they can reconcile their two versions of the spending plan at the center of the debate. So far, each has refused to budge on how to fund the government in the new fiscal year, which started Tuesday.

At the White House, Obama blamed Republicans for the shutdown, using words such as “reckless” in describing what he called an “ideological crusade.”

“Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to fund the government unless we defunded or dismantled the Affordable Care Act,” he said, flanked by people who the White House said had benefited from the health care reforms.

Taking aim at GOP claims of being better fiscal stewards, Obama said the economic growth demanded by Republicans was hindered by constant political crises over government funding like the current shutdown, not the health care law upheld by the Supreme Court last year.

The GOP counteroffer rejected by the Senate on Tuesday morning would have delayed Obamacare for a year and ended federally provided health care for the president, members of Congress and their staff while funding the government for 11 weeks.

In addition, the House GOP plan proposed a conference committee with the Senate to work out a compromise. Such a committee is usually the result of competing legislation from the two chambers on major issues, rather than a short-term continuing resolution intended to keep the government running for a matter of weeks.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, a leading liberal voice, told CNN that he is open to negotiations with the House on at least one specific provision of Obamacare — a tax on medical devices that some in both party oppose.

However, Durbin echoed the position of Reid that such negotiations must be separated from the spending impasse that has shut down the government.

“The conversation should continue, but let’s not do it with our government shutdown,” he said, adding that Congress would have to replace the $30 billion in lost revenue over 10 years that would occur if it eliminated the medical device tax.

On the Republican side, Rep. Darrell Issa of California said he could vote to fund the government for a few days or weeks to provide time for a conference committee to work out a compromise.

“I personally would vote for 10 days, even 30 days if that was necessary so that we could resolve these differences,” Issa told CNN.

‘A dangerous message’

At the heart of the issue is the insistence by House Republicans that any spending plan for the new fiscal year include anti-Obamacare amendments. Senate Democrats are just as insistent that it doesn’t.

Obamacare isn’t directly tied to funding the government. But it’s so unpopular among the Republican tea party conservatives that they want it undercut, if not outright repealed.

The health care law “is the most insidious law known to man,” Republican Rep. Todd Rokita of Indiana said this week.

Carney told CNN that such intransigence is the root of the shutdown, noting that conservative Republicans such as Rokita are the only ones pushing a political agenda for meeting the congressional responsibility of passing a budget.

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the shutdown gives the United States a black eye.

“It is a dangerous message to the world,” he said. “We tell other nations that we believe that they have to have certain disciplines. And yet, we cannot ultimately keep our own budget open and the nation and its government functioning.”

Amid the finger-wagging and fulminating, major components of the new health insurance law went into effect on schedule on Tuesday.

“The Affordable Care Act is moving forward. You can’t shut it down,” said a post on Barack Obama’s verified Twitter feed.

What’s next

A predictable pattern of legislative stalemate took place in the run-up to Tuesday’s simultaneous start of a new fiscal year and implementation of the Obamacare private exchanges, a major component of the health care reforms tied to the individual mandate for people to obtain health coverage that conservatives despise.

The House three times sent a version of the short-term spending plan with anti-Obamacare amendments to the Senate, which stripped away the provisions it opposed and sent it back. After the shutdown began at midnight Monday, House Republicans did it again, this time adding the call for a conference committee.

Democrats insist that the House instead pass a spending measure that contains no Obamacare amendments. That position is supported by the Democratic minority and enough moderate Republicans to overcome opposition by the GOP conservative wing, both Democrats and Republicans say.

However, House Speaker John Boehner has succumbed to pressure from the tea party right to avoid a vote that would pass a clean spending resolution.

Boehner, speaking in the early minutes of the shutdown, said he hoped Senate Democrats would agree to negotiate.

Asked if he had a message for the 800,000 furloughed employees — or if he has a plan to restore back pay to them — Boehner responded, “The House has voted to keep the government open, but we also want basic fairness for all Americans under Obamacare.”

He then walked away from the podium.

A blow to the economy

The shutdown of the federal government — the country’s largest employer — isn’t happening all at once.

Federal employees who are considered essential will continue working. Those deemed non-essential — more than 800,000 — will be furloughed, unsure when they’ll be able to work or get paid again. Most furloughed federal workers are supposed to be out of their offices within four hours of the start of business Tuesday.

The shutdown could cost the still-struggling U.S. economy about $1 billion a week in pay lost by furloughed federal workers. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

While many agencies have reserve funds and contingency plans that would give them some short-term leeway, the economic loss would snowball as the shutdown continued.

The total economic impact is likely to be at least 10 times greater than the simple calculation of lost wages of federal workers, said Brian Kessler, economist with Moody’s Analytics. His firm estimates that a three- to four-week shutdown would cost the economy about $55 billion.

Initial market reaction around the world was muted.

Lisa Buckley, who co-owns the Denver-based American Automation security firm, counts on government contracts for 60% of her business. She’s worried about how she’ll pay her employees if the shutdown drags on.

“It’s quite irresponsible how the government has been running the country,” Buckley said. “If I ran my business like Congress has been handling the budget, I’d lose my job.”

Troops will still get paid

Congress actually managed to come together to pass one bill — unanimously, at that.

The Senate approved a House-approved measure Monday to ensure members of the military would continue to get paid during the shutdown. Obama signed off on it.

But it’s uncertain how the shutdown will affect military veterans, including the 3.3 million who are disabled.

If the shutdown stretches into late October, the Veterans Affairs Department — meaning disability and pension checks could stop for elderly and ill veterans.

“That’s what they need to pay rent, to pay food,” said Tom Tarantino of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “It’s not their total income, but it is a significant part of it.”

Congressional paychecks also safe

Although much of the federal workforce will go without pay, checks will keep coming to the 533 current members of Congress.

Why? The 27th Amendment prevents any Congress from changing its own pay.

The president too will get paid. His salary — $400,000 — is considered mandatory spending.

On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder said he would take a pay cut equal to the Justice Department employees most severely impacted by a shutdown.

10 ways the shutdown would affect you

Obamacare still focus

Democrats have pressured Boehner to give up a losing fight over Obamacare forced by tea party conservatives.

Noting that the 2010 Affordable Care Act has been upheld by the Supreme Court, they say it is settled law that voters endorsed last year by re-electing Obama over GOP candidate Mitt Romney, who campaigned on repealing it.

“They are fixated on embarrassing our president, the president of the United States,” Reid said.

Some Republicans too expressed frustration Monday with the tactics of their congressional colleagues. Veteran GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona noted that any attempt to repeal Obamacare would fail because of Obama’s veto, which would require a two-thirds majority in the Senate to overcome.

GOP Rep. Peter King of New York said the problem is tea party conservatives driving the Republican agenda in the House.

“We have people in the conference, I believe, who’d be just as happy to have the government shut down,” King said. “They live in these narrow echo chambers. They listen to themselves and their tea party friends. That keeps them going, forgetting that the rest of the country thinks we’re crazy.”

Public reaction

A game of chicken between Dems, GOP

According to a CNN/ORC poll, 68% of Americans think shutting down the government for even a few days is a bad idea, while 27% think it’s a good idea.

And it appears most Americans would blame congressional Republicans for a shutdown: Sixty-nine percent said they agreed with the statement that the party’s elected officials were acting like “spoiled children.”

Democrats, however, weren’t far behind: Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they, too, were acting like spoiled kids.

Another poll showed public support for Congress at record low levels — at 10%.

“Things like this can have such a big impact on people that aren’t in the limelight. You know, people that are out working hourly positions” said Quinn Agard, who works on Liberty Island, the home of the Statue of Liberty.

More than 21,000 national park employees will be furloughed. Thousands more — like cleanup crews and concession employees — will be left without pay.

“This whole island will be shut down. So that’s a ton of different positions that people wont be working and won’t be getting paid for,” Agard said.

The island draws up to 4 million visitors a year. And at $17 per adult ticket, it’s also a big money maker.

CNN Poll: GOP would bear the brunt of shutdown blame

Meet the man behind the government shutdown

CNN’s Lisa Desjardins, Poppy Harlow, Lateef Mungin, Dana Bash, Z. Byron Wolf, Chris Isidore, Ted Barrett, Deidre Walsh, Barbara Starr, Sophia Yan, Ed Payne and John Helton contributed to this report.

C.R. Douglas talks with state Insurance Commission about Health ExchangeSEATTLE — Within just a few minutes of going online, was taken down for maintenance problems.

Richard Onizuka, CEO for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, issued the following statement after the health plan finder site went down on the first day of the Affordable Care Act:

“Washington Healthplanfinder launched this morning at 7:30 a.m., bringing new quality health coverage options to thousands of uninsured individuals, families and small businesses in Washington state.

During the launch, we became aware that some users were experiencing slow loading times or difficulty completing their application. While this is not affecting all users, we want to investigate the root cause for why this is happening and will be placing the site in maintenance mode in order to identify and correct these issues. We expect to have an update at 9:30 a.m.

 The experience of our customers is our top priority and we thank you for your patience as we work to refine the system on day one. We expected to have some of these bumps in the road and look forward to have the system back up and running as soon as possible.”

Shortly before 10 a.m., Onizuka issued this statement:

“This morning, we determined that consumers attempting to enroll in health coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder experienced slow loading times or difficulty completing their application. While this is not affecting all users, the site was placed into maintenance mode in order to identify and correct these issues.

Our team has made a few modifications to the site and are currently in the process of bringing Washington Healthplanfinder back online. We will continue to closely monitor the website for any performance issues and will take additional action as needed.

Again, the experience of our customers is our top priority and we thank you for your patience as we work to bring the site back up to Washingtonians statewide.”


Closed for business: Government starts shutting down

WASHINGTON — U.S. government agencies were ordered to close for the first time in more than 17 years after lawmakers stalemated over Republican efforts to block President Obama‘s healthcare law.

More than 800,000 federal workers were to spend Tuesday, the first day of the new fiscal year, on unpaid furloughs as agency managers executed contingency plans for the costly process of closing down operations indefinitely.

The official word to shut down came from the White House just before midnight Monday. Hours earlier, the Senate, by a 54-46 party-line vote, killed a House measure that would have funded government agencies for six weeks but delayed key parts of Obamacare for a year.

boehnerIt was the second such vote that the Senate took during a day in which the two chambers exchanged volleys of legislation with little expectation that any of it would become law.

The one exception to the legislative futility was a bill to ensure that military service members would be paid during the shutdown. Obama signed it into law late Monday night.

The House’s final legislative effort passed 228 to 201, mostly along party lines. It would have delayed for one year the requirement in the healthcare law that individuals have insurance or pay a fine and would have reduced benefits for members of Congress and some of their staff members.

Early Tuesday, the Republican-controlled House voted to set up a House-Senate committee that could seek a compromise in coming days. Democratic leaders in the Senate asserted that they would not negotiate under duress, however, and insisted that the House first pass a measure temporarily providing funds for government agencies.

For more on this LA Times story, click here.

HealthySEATTLE — The Affordable Health Care Act goes into effect Tuesday and its success is dependent on young adults participating. To keep premiums affordable, young Americans have to buy into the plan.

Washington Health Foundation president James Whitfield said, “The idea there is they won’t be using as much health insurance, as much health care services (as others), but they will be paying into the health insurance market.”

Richard Kresser fits the mold. He is a 27-years-old and active outdoors.

“I really just enjoy staying physically active whether it’s rock climbing, mountain climbing, trail running, kayaking,” Kresser said.

Shopping for health insurance is also on his to-do list.

“I’m definitely going to have to get some sort of health care. No matter how expensive it is. You’ve got to have it.”

Buying insurance is no longer optional — if you don’t get insurance, you will be fined. And the government is trying to get that message across in a comical way.

Michael Marchand with the Washington Health Benefit Exchange hopes the campaign grabs the attention of  young people who typically don’t bother with insurance, either because they can’t afford or they don’t feel like they need it. The industry calls them “indestructibles.”

“It’s super hard. We live in a 140-character world now and differentiating for that audience is going to take a multitude of messages through a multitude of messengers in order to get to them and help them get to a decision,” he said.

Marchand said a million Washingtonians don’t have health insurance. That’s a big risk for people to take, and the Washington Health Benefit Exchange is there to help those people find coverage they can afford.

“So what we want to do is get people to understand there is value–  and now, opportunity — to help offset the cost,” Marchand said. “Find something that better fits their needs and they should be going to Washington Health Plan Finder to find this.”

As of Jan. 1, 2014, you have to get covered. If you are uninsured, you will be fined and you still won’t have insurance. The fine for being uninsured is $95 or 1 percent of your annual income, whichever is higher. For example, someone making $40,000 who didn’t buy health care, the fine would be $400.

Health care enrollment begins on Oct. 1.

By Kathleen Hennessy
Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON – The federal government partially shut down Tuesday for the first time in 17 years after lawmakers in the House and the Senate could not agree on a spending bill to fund U.S. departments and agencies because of a Republican demand to delay or defund Obamacare.

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget formally began shutting down the government late Monday, ordering federal agencies to prepare for funding to expire and to execute contingency plans.

Congress“Unfortunately, we do not have a clear indication that Congress will act in time for the president to sign a continuing resolution before the end of the day tomorrow, Oct. 1, 2013. Therefore, agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations,” wrote OMB director Sylvia M. Burwell in a memorandum circulated at 11:45 p.m. Eastern time.

The federal government was shut down twice in 1995-96, when Bill Clinton was president and Newt Gingrich was the speaker of the House, but has not closed since then.

Burwell, as President Obama did repeatedly Monday, urged Congress to pass short-term legislation that would extend the funding for the remainder of the fiscal year and “restore the operation of critical public services and programs that will be impacted by a lapse in appropriations.”

In a message broadcast to U.S. military personnel broadcast at midnight, Obama said, “Those of you in uniform will remain on your normal duty status. Congress has passed, and I am signing into law, legislation to make sure you get your paychecks on time. And we’ll continue working to address any impact this shutdown has on you and your families.

“To all our DOD civilians—I know the days ahead could mean more uncertainty, including possible furloughs,” the president added. “And I know this comes on top of the furloughs that many of you already endured this summer. You and your families deserve better than the dysfunction we’re seeing in Congress. … That’s why I’ll keep working to get Congress to reopen our government and get you back to work as soon as possible.”

OMB will provide further guidance for federal employees, Burwell said. Many employees were planning to go in to work for part of the day Tuesday to collect belongings and return federal equipment, such as phone or computers. Those workers deemed exempt from the order will continue to work.

“We greatly appreciate your cooperation and the work you and your agencies do on behalf of the American people,” Burwell wrote.

Most of the 800,000 furloughed federal workers are supposed to be out of their offices within four hours of the start of business Tuesday.

Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., said, “Republicans played chicken with the government and our economy, and the American people lost.”

Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., said, “Thousands of federal employees at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will be furloughed tomorrow. Small businesses throughout the South Puget Sound will see delays in payments and loans from the federal government. Both Mount Rainier National Park and the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge will be closed. Every day our government is shutdown is another body blow to our economy.”

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., urged the Republican-controlled House to take up a “clean” spending bill with no riders.

“This is no longer about spending cuts. We have accepted the funding levels Republicans demanded.  House Republicans are simply more interested in playing politics and making unreasonable partisan demands that have nothing to do with the budget or securing our nation’s economy. This gamesmanship must end,” Smith said.

Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., issued the following statement:   “House Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for playing politics at the expense of American families and our nation’s economy. They refused to allow a vote on a clean budget bill, despite all indications that it would have passed with bipartisan support. Because of their unyielding and extreme demands, House Republicans have forced the federal government to shut down.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said early Tuesday morning in Washington, D.C.: “Unfortunately, Senate Democrats chose to shut down the government rather than discuss or even recognize Obamacare’s failures. The best path forward right now is for both chambers to convene a formal conference committee where we can resolve our differences, and move forward on important legislation that gets control of spending and strengthens our economy. That’s the system the Founders set up for us, and it’s what the American people expect us to do.”

Local News

Local impact of federal government shutdown

OLYMPIA — As a former member of Congress, Gov. Jay Inslee had real concerns Monday night.

“I do want to take note about what increasingly looks like a shutdown of the federal government as of this hour,” Inslee said at a Monday afternoon news conference.  “Some 800,000 federal employees, including many here in Washington state, would be furloughed.  This would be a blow to our recovering economy here in our state.”

shutdownAt Joint Base Lewis-McChord, it’s estimated as many as 10,000 civilian workers would be immediately furloughed without pay.  Another 46,000 active-duty soldiers would still go to work in a shutdown, but might get government IOUs instead of paychecks until things are settled.

“Folks who are enlisted in the military don’t make a ton of money.  A lot of people live paycheck to paycheck and not knowing if they’re going to get paid on the 15th is going to add to a lot of stress for people in the community,” said Alex Bacon with Coffee Strong, a support organization near JBLM.

The Puget Sound Naval Station in Bremerton is Kitsap County’s largest employer.  Almost a quarter of its 13,000 workers would be furloughed without pay.  That’s on top of the sequester furlough days that effectively cut their pay by 20% this summer.

“They justifiably have high anxiety and all I can say is they’re bearing up with strength and purpose when I talk to them but I know it must be extremely frustrating for them,” Inslee said.

Unemployment checks could be held up if a shutdown lasts longer than a week.  State Department of Transportation road construction projects could face permit delays.

“The bottom line is this, as we know, is not a responsible way to govern and I urge members of Congress to work together to pass legislation to keep the government open,” Inslee said.

If a shutdown does happen, mail service and delivery of Social Security checks will not be affected, but all national parks will be closed.  If you are looking to buy a home, approval of any government-backed mortgage could be delayed.

The state’s Health Care Exchange website that goes live Tuesday morning will not be affected.

Washington (CNN) — With a government shutdown looming, politicians in Washington talked mostly at each other Monday instead of negotiating a way to avoid it.

In the latest volley of legislative ping pong over a short-term spending plan needed to avoid a shutdown at midnight, Senate Democrats again rejected a House proposal that also would derail Obamacare.

The 54-46 Senate vote on strict party lines returned the focus to the Republican-led House, where Speaker John Boehner said another effort would be made to attach provisions that would delay President Barack Obama’s signature health care reforms from full implementation starting Tuesday.

Despite repeated rejection by the Democratic-led Senate and a veto threat by Obama, House Republicans will raise the stakes on the spending plan by also voting on a provision to force the president and members of Congress to get private health coverage under Obamacare instead of the government health care program, Boehner said.

Obama made a previously unscheduled statement to reporters on Tuesday afternoon that repeated his criticism of the repeated attempts by House Republicans to undermine Obamacare that he said no threatens to harm the economy with a shutdown.

“You don’t get to extract a ransom for doing your job, for doing what you’re supposed to be doing anyway, where just because there’s a law there that you don’t like,” Obama said.

The president later called Boehner and other party leaders in the House and Senate, the White House said, but a Boehner spokesman indicated there was no breakthrough.

Moderate GOP revolt against Boehner?

Meanwhile, GOP sources told CNN that moderate House Republicans were trying to galvanize what would amount to a rebellion against Boehner and their tea party colleagues by defeating the latest proposed spending plan with attached anti-Obamacare provisions.

However, a procedural vote on the measure passed with only six Republicans voting “no,” ensuring floor debate would proceed with a final vote set for later Monday night.

Without congressional approval of new spending legislation, parts of the federal government will begin shutting down when the current fiscal year ends at midnight, forcing agencies to furlough thousands of workers and curtail some services until there is a resolution.

“I feel sad about it. We expect more from our Congress,” said Vick Temple, a worker for the Federal Aviation Administration who told CNN he faced being furloughed in a shutdown.

Polls show public opposition to a shutdown, and stocks ended lower Monday on Wall Street due to concerns over the economic impact.

However, House Republicans decided to try again to force the Senate Democrats to back down by planning to attach more anti-Obamacare provisions to a third version of the short-term spending plan needed to keep the government funded for several weeks beyond Monday.

In addition, Boehner and other House GOP leaders said they would add the so-called nuclear option that would force Democrats to essentially vote in favor of giving themselves and their staff members government subsidies for health coverage.

The Obamacare subsidies are similar to the health care coverage that private employers provide their workers. Under the House GOP provision, Obama and members of Congress as well as their staff would obtain health coverage through the private exchanges of Obamacare that go into effect on Tuesday.

GOP Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma told CNN that the Affordable Care Act was written to ensure that politicians in Washington would receive the same health care options and costs as people who purchase private health coverage within the program.

“I think it’s right to have employer provided health care, but the way the law is written, it’s not allowed,” Lankford said.

Meanwhile, the two parties persisted in blaming the other side as the shutdown deadline neared.

Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina said on CNN’s “New Day” that her party continues to be deeply concerned about Tuesday’s scheduled opening of Obamacare health insurance exchanges and “keeping the checkbook out of Barack Obama’s hands and the damage can be done there.”

Get up to speed on the showdown

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz, D-Florida, appearing alongside Ellmers, characterized the Republican strategy of tying overall government operations to at least a delay in health care changes as “irrational.”

“It jeopardizes the economy and it makes no sense,” she said.

On Monday morning, Obama told reporters he wasn’t resigned to a shutdown, but he signaled its likelihood even as he indicated possible talks with congressional leaders.

“I suspect that I will be speaking to the leaders today, tomorrow and the next day,” Obama said at a joint appearance with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who acknowledged the Washington brouhaha by thanking the president for meeting with him “on what I know is a very busy day for you.”

The latest plan rejected by Senate Democrats would have delayed Obamacare for a year and repealed a tax on medical devices.

Legislative ping pong

Last week, the Senate voted down a House GOP plan to eliminate funding for Obamacare in a short-term spending plan to keep the government running in the new fiscal year that begins Tuesday.

Democrats have pressured Boehner to give up a losing fight over Obamacare forced by tea party conservatives and instead hold a vote on a “clean” spending plan that includes no provisions seeking to undermine the health care reforms.

On CNN, Wasserman Schultz predicted that such a measure would pass easily with support from all Democrats and more moderate Republicans.

Some Republicans expressed frustration Monday with the tactics of their congressional colleagues. Veteran GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona noted that any attempt to repeal Obamacare would fail because of Obama’s veto, which would require a two-thirds majority in the Senate to overcome.

“There’s not 67 votes in the United States Senate, therefore, ergo, we’re not going to repeal Obamacare,” McCain said. “Okay? That’s it. We may do this for a day. We may do it for a week. We may do it for a month. It’s going to end up the same way. “

GOP Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania told CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash that whichever party was to blame, a shutdown will make everyone look bad.

“At this point, the hourglass is nearly empty,” Dent said. “Now that we’ve sent over two volleys to the U.S. Senate and they rejected both.”

Trying again would only yield the same result, he continued, adding that “sooner or later, we have to pass a clean resolution to fund the government before the end of the day.”

“I believe the votes are there to do it,” Dent said.

10 ways the shutdown would affect you

Obamacare a GOP focus

Obama and Democrats reject what they call Republican efforts to use the threat of a government shutdown to force negotiations on the president’s signature health care reforms.

Noting that the 2010 Affordable Care Act has been upheld by the Supreme Court, they say it is settled law that voters endorsed last year by re-electing Obama over GOP candidate Mitt Romney, who campaigned on repealing it.

A new CNN/ORC poll shows that Americans are not happy about the prospect of a shutdown, which is happening because Congress has been unable to pass a budget for the new fiscal year that begins Tuesday.

A game of chicken between Dems, GOP

According to the poll, 68% of Americans think shutting down the government for even a few days is a bad idea, while 27% think it’s a good idea.

And it appears most Americans would blame congressional Republicans for a shutdown: Sixty-nine percent said they agreed with the statement that the party’s elected officials were acting like “spoiled children.”

Democrats, however, weren’t far behind: Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they too were acting like spoiled kids.

A poll later showed public support for Congress at record low levels.

Stock traders also seemed solidly against a shutdown. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by more than 120 points, or nearly 1 percent, and the other two major indexes also closed lower.

Among major economic issues that could result from a shutdown: delays in processing FHA housing loan applications — a potential drag on the housing recovery — and the potential loss of government spending that’s helping prop up the economy, said Christine Romans, host of CNN’s “Your Money.”

“You’ve got an economy right now that’s very tied to government spending and government contracts, so that could have a ripple effect all across Main Street,” she said on CNN’s “New Day.”

If the government does shut down, it would be the first time it has happened in more than 17 years. That previous shutdown, sparked by a budget battle between Democratic President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress, lasted for 21 days.

CNN Poll: GOP would bear the brunt of shutdown blame

While the military will remain on duty, as will many essential public safety, health and welfare operations, many government offices will close. About a quarter of the federal government’s 3.3 million employees — those frequently referred to as “nonessential” — will be told to stay home from work until the shutdown is over.

Attorney General Eric Holder and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said essential crime prevention and military services would continue, but some workers would be furloughed. Holder said he would cut his pay by the same amount as the most severely affected Justice Department employees because “we are all in this together.”

Meet the man behind the government shutdown

CNN’s Michael Pearson, Holly Yan, Ted Barrett, Lisa Desjardins and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.


SEATTLE — Washington state’s new Health Exchange is scheduled to go live Tuesday, allowing 1 million Washingtonians who don’t have insurance to sign up for it.

The Exchange, which is mandated by federal law, is meant to be simple to use in addition to offering more than 30 health insurance plan options. Starting Tuesday, residents can view the plans online at the Washington Health Plan Finder.

“You’re going to wind up having an opportunity to make sure you have real limitations on out-of-pocket (expenses), have real, comprehensive coverage. This is real insurance,” Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said.  “You’re going to be able to go to that site, you’re going to be able to enter into it the number of  family members that you have, if it’s more than just yourself, and you’ll put in the family income.”

Under the Affordable Health Care Act, the subsidy applies to families of four making up to $94,200. The law also limits the amount insurance companies can charge and prevents companies from denying coverage.

“They can’t look at your medical history,” Kreidler said. “Those days are over.”

If you don’t sign up for a health care plan, then get ready to be fined — starting in 2014, those who don’t have insurance coverage will be fined — it’s a strategy meant to create an incentive for everyone to participate.

“The pool works if you have good risk and bad risk people, healthy and the sick, all in the same pool. That helps to lower the cost of healthcare insurance for everybody,” Kreidler explained.

At least one new insurance exchange shopper will be Sen. Patty Murray. Under Obamacare, members of Congress will be required to buy their own insurance for the first time.

“I’m delighted the insurance companies now will have to compete for my business instead of the other way around,” she said.

At a roundtable Murray recently hosted in Seattle about Washington’s new exchange, the senator praised Obamacare.

“We are going to solve a problem for so many people who did not have access to health insurance,” Murray told the crowd. “If there’s challenges, let’s work our way through them and fix them. But the wholesale effort to stop it just doesn’t make sense to me — I can tell you this, this law is not going to be repealed.”

Many Republicans argue that Obamacare will place too heavy of a burden on individuals and businesses, in turn, hurting the economy. The president, on the other hand, insists it’s here to stay and his administration is counting on 7 million people participating.