Shutdown likely to drag on as issues grow more complicated

By Evan M Migdail and Steven R Phillips 

The federal government shutdown, now in its fourth day, appears likely to continue a while longer as the list of issues under discussion between the president and congressional leaders, and within the Congress, becomes longer and more complex.

Congress faced two major fiscal deadlines as October approached: the expiration of funding for most government operations on 1 October and the 17 October deadline reported by Treasury secretary Jack Lew at which the US is at risk of defaulting on its obligations absent of the authority to borrow above the current debt limit of $16.7tn (£10.4tn)  While discussions in late September focused on the spending deadline, the proximity of the 17 October deadline has forced a practical merger of the two issues. A resolution of the spending shutdown appears virtually unachievable without a formula on the debt issue as well.

Legislative efforts by House Republicans to pass temporary funding for the government have combined temporary spending authority (generally through 15 December) with provisions to repeal or modify provisions of the Affordable Care Act and have met with rejection in the Democratic-controlled Senate. The president and Senate Democrats have equally rejected attempts by House Republicans to fund small parts of the government, such as the National Parks Service and the National Institutes of Health, while larger negotiations go forward…

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