Shutdown not to be repeated, alternative elusive

PTI Washington | Updated on October 21, 2013 Published on October 21, 2013

Leaders from both parties insist a sequel to the Government shutdown must be avoided although a plan to dodge it is still elusive.

“This can never happen again,” Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said.

Added Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, “There’ll not be another Government shutdown, you can count on that.”

The 16-day partial shutdown ended last week although a possible repeat may be on the horizon. Lawmakers approved a budget that keeps the lights on through January 15 and lets Treasury continue to pay its bills through February 7.

That’s not to say there is a solution at hand, and no one is rushing forward with alternatives to a potential repeat of the gridlock that shuttered parts of the Government and pushed the US to the brink of a default on its debt. The political price has been high ahead of 2014’s midterm elections, especially for Republicans.

“I think there was some ground lost from the political point of view,” said former Florida Gov Jeb Bush, a potential 2016 Republican presidential contender.

Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi reiterated the public’s reaction to the partisan gamesmanship that played out over more than two weeks: “I join the American people in their disgust at what happened in terms of the shutdown of Government.”

But there’s no real way forward to dodge a repeat and its chief architect, Republican Sen Ted of Cruz, is urging one.

Hundreds of thousands of Government workers were sent home amid the shutdown and national parks were barricaded while politicians negotiated. The whole situation could be repeated, combined with economic consequences, early next year, perhaps with more severe consequences.

“The deal this week was a lousy deal for the American people,” Cruz said.

It’s not ideal, but no one has a tangible way to avoid it.

“We just went through an awful period for our country,” said Republican Sen Lindsey Graham.

A stand-off between President Barack Obama and a group of congressional Republicans over spending for the budget year beginning October 1 and defunding the nation’s health care overhaul led to the shutdown. Lawmakers also pushed the country to the edge of economic default by threatening the Treasury Department’s authority to continue borrowing the money needed to pay the nation’s bills.

The bitter feuding ended on Wednesday, and a group of House and Senate lawmakers has until December 13 to produce a spending deal to stave off another shutdown and possible default in early 2014.

Published on October 21, 2013
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