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   WASHINGTON (AP) — A conservative challenge to the president's health care law has the federal government teetering on the brink of a partial shutdown.

   The Senate has the next move on must-do legislation required to keep the government open past midnight on Monday, and the Democratic-led chamber is expected to reject the latest effort from House Republicans to use a normally routine measure to attack President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

   Congress was closed for the day on Sunday after a post-midnight vote in the GOP-run House to delay by a year key parts of the new health care law and repeal a tax on medical devices as the price for avoiding a shutdown. The Senate is slated to convene Monday afternoon just 10 hours before the shutdown deadline, and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has already promised that majority Democrats will kill the House's latest volley.

   A House GOP leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, said the House would again rebuff the Senate's efforts to advance the short-term funding bill as a simple, "clean" measure shorn of anti-heath care reform provisions.

   Since the last government shutdown 17 years ago, temporary funding bills known as continuing resolutions have been noncontroversial, with neither party willing to chance a shutdown to achieve legislative goals it couldn't otherwise win. But with health insurance exchanges set to open Tuesday, tea party Republicans are willing to take the risk in their drive to kill the law, so-called "Obamacare."

   "You're going to shut down the government if you can't prevent millions of Americans from getting affordable care," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

   A leader of the tea party Republicans, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, insisted the blame rests with Senate Democrats.

   "The House has twice now voted to keep the government open. And if we have a shutdown, it will only be because when the Senate comes back, Harry Reid says, 'I refuse even to talk,'" said Cruz, who led a 21-hour broadside against allowing the temporary funding bill to advance if stripped clean of a tea party-backed provision to derail Obamacare. The effort failed.

   The battle started with a House vote to pass the short-term funding bill with a provision that would have eliminated the federal dollars needed to put Obama's health care overhaul into place. The Senate voted along party lines to strip that out and set the measure back to the House.

   The latest House bill, passed early Sunday by a near party-line vote of 231-192, sent back to the Senate two major changes: a one-year delay of key provisions of the health insurance law and repeal of a new tax on medical devices that partially funds it. The steps still go too far for the White House and its Democratic allies.

   Senate rules often make it difficult to move quickly, but the chamber can act on the House's latest proposals by simply calling them up and killing them.

   Eyes were turning to the House for its next move. A senior leader vowed the House would not simply give in to Democrats' demands to pass the Senate's "clean" funding bill.

   "The House will get back together in enough time, send another provision not to shut the government down, but to fund it, and it will have a few other options in there for the Senate to look at again," said McCarthy, the No. 3 House Republican leader.

   He suggested that House Republicans would try blocking a mandate that individuals buy health insurance or face a tax penalty, saying there might be some Democratic support in the Senate for that.

   On the other hand, Democrats said the GOP's bravado may fade as the deadline to avert a shutdown nears.

   Asked whether he could vote for a "clean" temporary funding bill, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said he couldn't. But Labrador added, "I think there's enough people in the Republican Party who are willing to do that. And I think that's what you're going to see."

   A leading Senate GOP moderate called on her fellow Republicans to back down.

   "I disagree with the strategy of linking Obamacare with the continuing functioning of government — a strategy that cannot possibly work," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

   McCarthy wouldn't say what changes Republicans might make. He appeared to suggest that a very short-term measure might pass at the last minute, but GOP aides said that was unlikely.

   Republicans argued that Reid should have convened the Senate on Sunday.

   Yet even some Republicans said privately they feared that Reid held the advantage in a fast-approaching end game.

   Republicans argued that they had already made compromises; for instance, their latest measure would leave intact most parts of the health care law that have taken effect, including requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions and to let families' plans cover children up to age 26. They also would allow insurers to deny contraception coverage based on religious or moral objections.

   Tea party lawmakers in the House — egged on by Cruz — forced GOP leaders to abandon an earlier plan to deliver a "clean" stopgap spending bill to the Senate and move the fight to another must-do measure looming in mid-October: a bill to increase the government's borrowing cap to avert a market-rattling, first-ever default on U.S. obligations.

   In the event lawmakers blow the Monday deadline, about 800,000 workers would be forced off the job without pay. Some critical services such as patrolling the borders, inspecting meat and controlling air traffic would continue. Social Security benefits would be sent, and the Medicare and Medicaid health care programs for the elderly and poor would continue to pay doctors and hospitals.

   McCarthy appeared on "Fox News Sunday," while Cruz and Labrador were on NBC's "Meet the Press." Van Hollen appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation."

Published in National News

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi says Republicans are using their opposition to health-care reform as an excuse to shut down the federal government.

The California Democrat says anti-government ideologues dominate the GOP and for them forcing a shutdown would be a victory.

She says, however, that GOP efforts to derail health-care reform and shut down the government have "no prospect of prevailing."

Pelosi says the goal of some in the GOP is to get the government out of the lives of Americans by handing Social Security over to private bankers and allowing Medicare to "wither on the vine."

The former House speaker made her comments Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

Published in National News

CHICAGO (AP) - With his top Democratic challenger out of the 2014 race, Gov. Pat Quinn says he remains focused on his day job.

Quinn addressed reporters Wednesday in Chicago. The appearance was his first since former White House chief of staff Bill Daley bowed out of the 2014 race.

Quinn shied away from addressing Daley's criticisms, including parting statements that Quinn wouldn't win.

With just one lesser known candidate left, he's widely expected to get the nod from his party during the March primary.

Quinn says he'll still attend a statewide slating discussion this weekend in Springfield by the state's Democratic party.

Four Republicans are running for governor. Quinn says it'll be a tough contest.

 

Published in Local News

   The largest coalition of organized labor unions in the St. Louis region is pulling its support for St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley's 2014 reelection bid.  Greater St. Louis Labor Council President Robert Soutier and Jeff Aboussie of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council met with Dooley Monday.  

   Soutier spoke with Fox 2 News about that meeting. "And I said at this point, we're withholding support.  We would urge you not to run." 

   Dooley says he's sorry the labor leaders are pulling their support, but he has no plans to bow out of the race.

   "There is no better friend to labor than Charlie Allen Dooley," he said.  "I have been labor's friend since I've been in politics, since I've been the county executive, on the county council since 1995."

   Soutier says the action isn't the result of any one incident, but stems from a relationship that has deteriorated over time.

   "The building trades certainly have some problems with non-union contractors in the county," Soutier said.  "Certainly, the firefighters have a problem with an appointment that Dooley made for, I think, one of the training centers." 

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The owners of a multi-state tobacco store chain have contributed thousands of dollars to Missouri officials and even hired their own lobbyists. But their cause this year is not focused on cigarettes.

Jon Rand and Sharie Keil are backing Missouri legislation that would remove hundreds of people convicted of sex crimes as juveniles from the state's online listing of registered sex offenders. Their cause is intensely personal, because their son is among those whose name, photo and address would come down from law enforcement websites.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill earlier this summer. He said it could endanger the public by hiding the whereabouts of violent sex offenders. But the political battle is not over. Missouri lawmakers are to convene next Wednesday to consider overriding the veto.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri House Majority Leader John Diehl (deel) is promising to raise money for the Republican cause - not his personal political aspirations - if colleagues nominate him as the next House speaker.

The fundraising pledge is one of several promises contained in a letter Diehl sent colleagues as part of a behind-the-scenes campaign.

A similar letter was sent to House Republicans by Diehl's rival for speaker, Rep. Caleb Jones. But Jones' letter makes no mention of fundraising.

The Associated Press obtained copies of both of the lawmakers' letters.

Republicans are meeting in St. Louis to discuss the potential override of Gov. Jay Nixon's vetoes of several bills. They're expected to vote during the September veto session on a nominee for House speaker in 2015.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn is making a series of stops in central Illinois.

Monday's visits mark the second round of trips the governor's made to the region following criticism that his frequent Chicago focus might draw a downstate challenger in the 2014 Democratic primary.

Quinn started the day welcoming the Stanley Cup to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum before heading to Bradley University in Peoria, where he announced a construction grant. Quinn is also scheduled to spend time talking about the construction grant Augustana College in Rock Island before going to Rockford, where he's expected to talk about a clean water initiative.

Quinn is facing a primary challenge from fellow Chicagoan Bill Daley.

Quinn's spokeswoman has said the governor was previously tied up in Springfield because of pension reform.

 
Published in Local News

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A steady stream of speakers at a Columbia Medicaid reform hearing urged a panel of citizens and Missouri lawmakers Saturday to not only reform but also expand the government-funded health care program.

The dozens of speakers included doctors, disability advocates, hospital executives and citizens who would become eligible for Medicaid under expansion envisioned by the federal Affordable Care Act.

The House Interim Committee on Citizens and Legislators Working Group on Medicaid Eligibility and Reform is one of three special committees created by state lawmakers after the Republican-led Legislature repeatedly rejected Medicaid expansion proposals in the 2013 session.

Committee chairman Noel Torpey of Independence and several other legislators on the 52-person panel emphasized that repairing what he called a "broken" Medicaid system is equally if not more important than broadening access.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — With the help of some Democrats, Missouri's Republican-led Legislature appears prepared to override Governor Jay Nixon's veto of a high-profile bill that seeks to nullify federal gun-control laws in Missouri and make criminals out of federal agents who try to enforce them.

The Democratic governor contends the bill violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Several of his fellow Democrats told The Associated Press that they don't disagree, but they say a "no" vote on gun-control legislation in some parts of Missouri could be career ending.

The Republican-led Legislature is to meet in September to consider a veto override.

The gun bill originally passed with comfortable margins in the House and Senate.

Published in Local News

   NEW YORK (AP) - Anthony Weiner is pressing ahead with his bid for mayor despite growing calls for him to drop out of the race over a new sexting scandal.

   Weiner has been a favorite in the polls since he launched his political comeback attempt in late May. But he was greeted with boos as he took the stage at a public housing meeting Wednesday evening. By the end of his remarks, however, the crowd was cheering loudly.

   Afterward, Weiner said he had expected that revelations would emerge by the end of the campaign, adding "some of them have." But he says his campaign is too important to abandon over "embarrassing personal things" becoming public.

   The latest scandal erupted Tuesday after the gossip website The Dirty posted X-rated messages and a crotch shot it said Weiner exchanged with a woman last year while using the online alias "Carlos Danger."

   The first poll since the latest scandal broke is scheduled to be released Thursday afternoon.

 

Published in National News
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