Some fear that could occur again in the next two weeks. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday he does not think that will happen, but he warned that a "prolonged or repeated" political crisis in Washington could weaken the U.S. globally.
Speaking at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on the island of Bali in Indonesia, Kerry described the current government shutdown as "a momentary episode." The risk, he said, lies in how long the stalemate persists.
On Capitol Hill, Republicans who control the House of Representatives have offered to approve funding for individual agencies, but the U.S. Senate, controlled by Democrats, has insisted there must be overall funding legislation to reopen the entire government. The Republicans say they will not consider an overall budget unless that includes changes in the health care law, which was previously approved by both houses of Congress and ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Obama tried to highlight the impact on furloughed workers Friday by visiting a local sandwich shop that was offering discounts to out-of-work government employees. Before ordering lunch for himself and Vice President Joe Biden, Obama challenged House Speaker John Boehner to allow lawmakers to vote freely on a bill to reopen the government without conditions.
"This shutdown could be over today," he said. "We know there are the votes for it in the House of Representatives, and as I said [Thursday], if Speaker Boehner will simply allow that vote to take place, we can end this shutdown."
Democratic criticism has irked Boehner, who objected earlier Friday to a published report that framed the ongoing political struggle as a contest that one side or the other could win or lose.
"This isn't some damn game," Boehner said. "The American people don't want their government shut down, and neither do I. All we're asking for is to sit down and have a discussion and to bring fairness, reopen the government, and bring fairness to the American people under Obamacare."
Democrats in the House are considering using a parliamentary maneuver to try to force a vote on a funding bill to end the shutdown, but they can only succeed if some Republican representatives turn against their party leadership. Such a vote could not occur before October 14, three days before the U.S. must increase the borrowing limit.
Democrats in the House said they will use a parliamentary maneuver to try to force a vote on a funding bill to end the shutdown, but would need some Republican support to carry out the plan. Such a vote could not occur before October 14, three days before the U.S. must increase the borrowing limit.
One analyst, University of Michigan business professor Erik Gordon, said he thinks both Obama and his Republican opponents will have to compromise on their policy goals if a default is to be avoided.
"I think at the last minute there will be some compromise, because neither side can afford to be seen by the public as being intransigent," he said. "So the Republicans will have to give up and say, 'Okay, we'll settle for fewer tax cuts than we asked for.' And the president is going to have to say, 'I'm going to make some bigger reductions [in spending] than I said I would make,' because neither side can afford to have the blame pinned on them. They will move together and learn to live with each other one more time."
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.
(c) 2012 Federal Information & News Dispatch, Inc.
Original headline: Kerry: Prolonged Political Crisis in Washington Could Weaken US
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