Hard lines were drawn by the leaders in both chambers of Congress Thursday, as the nation heads toward a federal government shutdown on Oct. 1 with lawmakers nowhere closer to a deal.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and his Democratic colleagues sent a strong and clear message in a press conference to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that any House bid to defund Obamacare will be “dead on arrival” and that the new health care law, the president's signature first-term achievement, is not going away.
The House plans to vote Friday on a continuing resolution to fund the government but not the health care law. Democrats have said such a move is pointless.
“The writing on the wall is clear for anyone with eyes to see,” Reid said. “Only time will tell if common sense will prevail.”
The majority leader said House Republicans are just putting off the inevitable and will eventually give in to reality.
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Reid was backed by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who warned Republicans that in this game of chicken, his side won’t be the one to yield. “This highway leads over a cliff to a shutdown or a default, either of which will be devastating for the economy.”
“We will not blink,” Schumer sternly warned the GOP. “Don’t get it into your heads that we will. We won’t. Don’t make it part of your strategy that eventually we’ll cave. We won’t. We’re unified. We’re together. You’re not.”
Schumer expressed confidence, however, that Boehner will eventually do the “right thing” and not trigger a shutdown or default. He accused Republican leaders of refusing to take leadership over their vocal hard right. Schumer said if enough "mainstream" Republicans step forward the right wing will be irrelevant with Democratic help -- perhaps an implicit challenge to Boehner's "majority of the majority" principle for passing House bills.
“It would be better for him, his party, his country if he did it sooner,” Schumer added.
In the meantime, President Barack Obama has said he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling. And, Reid showed no patience for prolonged negotiations and said Republicans are only putting off the inevitable.