With the U.S. Department of the Treasury exhausting its ability to borrow money in just a few days, negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress lurched from one potential solution to the combined federal shutdown/debt ceiling increase crisis to another over the weekend. Significantly, discussion of the funding of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continued to fade into the background, though it was ACA funding that was at issue at the start of the crisis, when the federal government shut down on Oct. 1, as House Republicans refused to vote on a continuing resolution that did not defund President Obama's signature domestic legislative achievement.
As the Washington Post's Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman reported on Monday morning, "What started as a mad dash to strike a deal to lift the federal debt limit slowed to a crawl over the weekend as stalemated Senate leaders waited nervously to see whether global markets would plunge Monday morning and drive the other side toward compromise."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), in negotiations with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), introduced the question of whether sequestration-imposed federal budget cuts, which have strongly impact healthcare providers, should continue into 2014 or not. McConnell indicated an unwillingness to address that question.
But with federal government borrowing capability ending on Oct. 17, members of Congress were under increasing pressure to resolve both issues quickly, in the face of a potentially devastating global economic impact of the U.S. government's inability to raise its debt limit. The International Monetory Fund's Christine Lagarde warned on Sunday that American lawmakers risk causing a "massive disruption the world over" that could tip the global economuy into another recession.
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