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Government Shutdown FY2014: As Clock Ticks Down to Default, Still No Deal

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 15-Oct-2013
Updated: 15-Oct-2013 10:54 PM

Yesterday's optimism that today would be the day agreement would be reached to reopen the government and raise the debt limit dissipated as House Republicans tried and failed to come up with a plan that could win enough Republican support to pass that chamber. 

Senate leaders who sounded hopeful last night suspended their discussions awaiting House action, but resumed them this evening when it became apparent the House would not pass anything right now.

The situation remains very fluid.  All that can be said this evening is that the point at which the government no longer will be able to borrow money to pay its bills -- the debt limit -- is just two days away, the government is about to enter its 16th day in partial shutdown mode, and agreement remains elusive.  House Speaker Boehner reiterated today that he did not want to put the government in the position of defaulting on its debts, which is what will happen if the debt limit is not suspended or raised:  "I have made clear for months and months that the idea of default is wrong and we shouldn't get anywhere close to it," he said after meeting with his Republican colleagues.  But here it is just two days away and a deal to raise the limit still is not forthcoming.

As for getting the government back to work, the House has been passing several narrowly written bills to fund specific parts of the government. With only two exceptions -- both related to military spending -- the Senate has refused to take them up, however.  None would fund NASA or NOAA or any of the government's science agencies other than the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is one indication of where those activities fall on the House Republican priority list.


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