Furloughed workers will get backpay when government reopens
The House voted unanimously and the Senate is expected to approve a bill to give furloughed workers back pay for the time they have to take off. Aside from that moment of bipartisanship, divide over the government shutdown continued.
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Lawmakers keep replaying the same script on Capitol Hill: House Republicans pass piecemeal bills to reopen popular and politically sensitive programs — on Friday, disaster relief and food aid for the poor — while Democrats insist that the House vote on a straightforward Senate-passed measure to reopen all of the government.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Shutdown! Government closed
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"We know that there are enough members in the House of Representatives — Democrats and Republicans — who are prepared to vote to reopen the government,' Obama said in an Associated Press interview Friday. "The only thing that is keeping that from happening is Speaker (John) Boehner has made a decision that he is going to hold out to see if he can get additional concessions from us."
There seemed little chance of that.
For one thing, flinching by either side on the shutdown might be seen as weakening one's hand in an even more important fight looming just over the horizon as the combatants in Washington increasingly shifted their focus to a midmonth deadline for averting a first-ever default.
"This isn't some damn game," Boehner said as the White House and Democrats held to their position of agreeing to negotiate only after the government is reopened and the $16.7 trillion debt limit raised.
Republicans pointed to a quote in The Wall Street Journal from an anonymous White House official that "we are winning ... It doesn't really matter to us" how long the shutdown lasts.
At issue in the shutdown is a temporary funding measure to keep the government fully open through mid-November or mid-December.
More than 100 stopgap continuing resolutions have passed without much difficulty since the last shutdown in 1996. But hardcore conservative tea party Republicans, their urgency intensified by the rollout of health insurance marketplaces this month, are demanding concessions in Obama's new health care law as their price for the funding legislation, sparking the shutdown impasse with Democrats.
Obama has said he won't negotiate on the temporary spending bill or upcoming debt limit measure, arguing they should be sent to him free of Republican add-ons. Congress, whether controlled by Democrats or Republicans, routinely sent Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, "clean" stopgap spending bills and debt-limit increases.
House Republicans appeared to be shifting their demands, de-emphasizing their previous insistence on defunding the health care overhaul in exchange for re-opening the government. Instead, they ramped up calls for cuts in federal benefit programs and future deficits, items that Boehner has said repeatedly will be part of any talks on debt limit legislation.
Associated Press reporters Stephen Ohlemacher and Charles Babington contributed to this report.
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