White House Issues Veto Threat on Stopgap Funding Bill

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio J. Scott Applewhite/AP

President Obama will veto a measure to keep the government open past Sept. 30 if it reaches his desk in its current form, according to a statement from the White House.

The House is poised to pass a continuing resolution on Friday that funds the government through Dec. 15, but also starves the 2010 Affordable Care Act of money. The Senate is expected to take out the language related to defunding Obamacare and send a “clean” temporary spending measure back to the House next week, edging the government closer to an Oct. 1 shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., posted a message on Twitter Thursday saying that any bill defunding the health care reform law is “dead on arrival in the Senate.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, would not speculate on what would happen once the bill leaves the House. “The fight here has been won; the fight there [Senate] is just beginning,” Boehner told reporters during a Thursday briefing.

The White House said it would support a short-term CR to avoid a government shutdown, but not one that guts Obama’s signature policy achievement and “advances a narrow ideological agenda that threatens our economy and the interests of the middle class.”

In addition to the language regarding Obamacare, the continuing resolution also keeps the sequester in place and ensures the government prioritizes payments on the debt held by the public and Social Security benefits if the debt limit is reached.

Republicans met Wednesday morning to lay out a new plan for tackling the impending fiscal deadlines, after the party’s most conservative wing rejected a measure that would have allowed the Senate to pass a continuing resolution without defunding Obamacare. The House GOP leadership ultimately decided to support the Tea Party’s effort to tie government funding to defunding the health care reform law, teeing up a showdown between the lower chamber and the Democratic-controlled Senate with less than two weeks left before Oct. 1. The House canceled a recess scheduled for the week of Sept. 23 to stay in Washington to figure out how to get a government funding bill to Obama before the deadline.

The Office of Management and Budget issued guidance on Wednesday telling agencies to prepare for a possible shutdown. The last time the government almost shut down because of a lapse in appropriations was in April 2011. The Federal Aviation Administration partially shut down for two weeks in the summer of 2011 when lawmakers could not agree on a reauthorization bill. Congress granted back pay to furloughed FAA workers, but there’s no guarantee they would do the same for all federal workers if they close the government in the next few weeks.

The debates over keeping the government open and increasing the debt limit are likely to come down to the wire, as House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, indicated during a press briefing on Thursday. “We will have plenty of time next weekend to discuss it,” Boehner told reporters, smiling as he walked away from the podium.

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