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HOUSE TO VOTE TO DERAIL OBAMACARE, FUND GOVERNMENT

Friday, 20 September 2013 06:33 Published in National News
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republicans controlling the House are moving to ship to the Senate a measure that would prevent a government shutdown but cripple the health care law that's the signature accomplishment of President Barack Obama's first term.

The top Senate Democrat has pronounced the bill dead and calls the House exercise a "waste of time." The White House has issued a veto threat.

Even before the House vote expected Friday, lawmakers were looking a couple of moves ahead on the congressional chessboard to a scenario in which the Democratic Senate would remove the "defund Obamacare" provision and kick the funding measure back to the House for a showdown next weekend.

The vote was something House leaders had tried to avoid because it initiates a fight that raises the possibility of a partial shutdown of the government when the fiscal year ends at midnight Sept. 30.

But an earlier plan by GOP leaders like House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, designed to send a straightforward bill to keep the government running through Dec. 15 ran into too much opposition from tea party members who demanded a showdown over the Affordable Care Act, the official name of what Republicans branded Obamacare.

Boehner has sought to reassure the public and financial markets that Republicans have no interest in either a partial government shutdown when the budget year ends or a first-ever default on a broader set of U.S. obligations when the government runs out of borrowing ability by mid- to late October.

"Let me be very clear," Boehner said. "Republicans have no interest in defaulting on our debt - none."

GOP leaders want to skirt the shutdown confrontation and seek concessions when addressing the need to raise the debt ceiling next month, but Obama says he won't be forced into making concessions as he did in the 2011 debt crisis, when he accepted $2.1 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years.

Boehner accused Obama of being ready to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Syria but not to engage with Republicans on increasing the nation's debt limit.

GOP leaders scheduled a meeting with the rank and file to discuss the debt limit measure. Aides said they plan to propose attaching provisions, including a mandate to permit construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a framework to reform the loophole-cluttered U.S. tax code, limits on medical malpractice lawsuits and higher Medicare premiums for higher-income beneficiaries. Even with the grab bag of GOP chestnuts, some ardent conservatives are likely to balk at voting for any debt limit measure.

Meanwhile, a GOP family feud simmered. Many Republicans in both the House and the Senate see the "defund Obamacare" strategy as futile and faulted architects Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, for whipping up expectations among tea partyers that the fight could be effectively waged.

A key part of the law, the opening of state insurance exchanges, is set to take effect Oct. 1, so the effort to gut the health care law has added urgency among conservative activists.

When Cruz suggested in a statement that the fight could not be won in the Senate, he infuriated House Republicans.

In fact, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., would appear to have the upper hand and be able to use his 54-46 majority to strip the Obamacare provision out and punt the bill back to the House. But it'll take all next week, in all likelihood, to advance the measure through the Senate.

"I just see a big box canyon sitting out there," said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., using Western imagery to suggest that the defunding crusade is a dead-end strategy or perhaps even a scenario for a slaughter.

Republicans are worried that they'll take the blame for any shutdown. The party that picks a fight generally gets the blame if an impasse results.

"I'm one who doesn't believe that a shutdown does anything except divert attention from a president and his policies, which are rightfully unpopular, to congressional incompetence," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. "We've seen what happens when Republicans are divided; we basically cede power and influence on the outcome."

Some Democrats, especially in the House, dislike the underlying stopgap spending bill because its spending rate is consistent with the $986 billion level permitted this year after the imposition of the sequester - the automatic, across-the-board budget cuts mandated by Washington's longstanding gridlock over the budget.

"Right now, the mood is not favorable to a $986 (billion) number," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

But White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Obama would indeed accept a stopgap spending bill at the GOP-sought level, which increases the likelihood that Democrats would eventually provide votes to help pass the measure over tea party opposition. The White House had previously ducked the question, so the step was seen on Capitol Hill as a signal to Democrats.

"Look," said Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., "we don't want a government shutdown and if we have to choose between trying to fix the sequester at a later time, three months, 75 days from now, or a government shutdown, we'll take the 75 days."

Republicans cautioned, however, that it is by no means assured that the House leaders like Boehner would simply surrender and schedule a vote if the Senate kicks back the bill.

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

REID'S RETURN A SUCCESS AS CHIEFS TOP EAGLES 26-16

Friday, 20 September 2013 06:32 Published in Sports
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- This was one time Andy Reid didn't mind being a big target.

The man in the bull's-eye so often when he coached in Philadelphia was easy for Chiefs receiver Donnie Avery to find. At the end of Kansas City's 26-16 victory over the Eagles in Reid's homecoming Thursday night, Avery gave Reid a Gatorade shower.

Reid already looked strange decked in all red on the visitors' sideline. Now, he was drenched, too - but smiling, even joking he was doing Gatorade promotions.

"Yeah, it was different," Reid said. "I was on the opposite side of the field than I normally am at. But I can't tell you that I was caught up in that part of it."

The result was similar to what he gave Philadelphia in his 14 years in charge of the Eagles, thanks to a dynamic Chiefs defense that forced five turnovers and sacked a harried Michael Vick five times. Vick even limped off after a late fumble - he said his ankle got rolled, but he was fine - but stayed around to hug Reid following the final play.

"It was great to see the players that are here," Reid admitted. "I had a chance to talk to them after the game."

Kansas City, which has not had a giveaway in opening 3-0, has won one more game already than it did in 2012 - after which it hired Reid days after he was fired on the heels of Philly's 4-12 finish.

"It's important," he said of the fast start, "but there's still a lot of season left. There no time to relax on what you have done."

The usually stoic Reid showed some fire to match his bright red outfit late in the first half when he thought the Chiefs got a bad spot. He came out to the hash mark to yell at the officials, then walked off at halftime still gesturing his displeasure.

That was far more emotion than he displayed when he entered the stadium with the Chiefs just before kickoff. Although the Philly fans gave him a warm ovation, some standing in tribute to the man who won 140 games and six division titles for them, Reid walked briskly along the sideline, never turning his gaze toward the stands.

But he later said he recognized the tribute.

"I appreciate the fans and the support they gave me," he said. "That was kind of them."

He certainly had to like much of what he saw on the field from his defense, particularly linebacker Justin Houston.

It was offensive master Reid's defense and special teams that set the tone and put his team ahead early, silencing the sea of green at the Linc. The Chiefs forced four first-half turnovers and Houston had three of their four sacks in the first half. He had another half-sack to start the second half, off a bad snap to Vick, and he forced Vick to fumble with 1:34 remaining. Houston has 6 1/2 sacks in three games.

"The defense, man - the DBs, the linebackers giving great coverage, the big guys in the middle pushing the pocket," he said. "When they're doing that, it's real easy for me to do my job."

Damaris Johnson's muffed punt return gave Kansas City the ball at the Eagles 8, leading to Ryan Succop's 33-yard field goal for a quick 3-0 lead. Derrick Johnson then deflected Vick's ill-advised throw into the flat and Eric Berry picked it off, going 38 yards with the first interception of the year for the Philly quarterback.

There would be more mistakes as Philadelphia (1-2) lost its eighth straight home game.

"I take full responsibility," Vick said. "I didn't get the offense going. I didn't get the tempo going. We didn't play well by any stretch. We didn't execute at all and we didn't play the way we're capable of."

But after falling behind 10-0, Vick got the Eagles' no-huddle, fast-tempo offense in gear with the longest run of his 12-year career. He burst up the middle, shook off two attempted tackles and sped 61 yards. Two plays later, it was his arm doing the damage. Under a heavy rush, he stood in and led Jason Avant perfectly in the left corner of the end zone for a 22-yard score.

That three-play, 87-yard spurt epitomized the fast-paced offense coach Chip Kelly brought from Oregon in replacing Reid. But Kelly got cute, going for a 2-point conversion on tight end Zach Ertz's run that failed.

The takeaways kept the Chiefs in front. And after Avery turned a short pass into a 51-yard gain thanks to sloppy Eagles tackling, Succop made a 31-yard field goal. He kicked a 34-yarder moments later after another turnover, Sean Smith's interception, for a 16-6 halftime edge.

Avery had a big night, finishing with seven catches for 141 yards.

Alex Henery's 29-yard field goal was the only scoring of a sloppy third quarter, and when Jamaal Charles surged around right end for a 3-yard TD early in the fourth quarter, Reid's return was a rousing success. Not even LeSean McCoy's 41-yard TD run with 11:36 remaining could spoil that.

"This was definitely bigger than coach Reid, and he would be the first to admit that," cornerback Sean Smith said. "This was about us as an organization, as a team, to go out there and be 3-0, which is big in the NFL."

NOTES: The Eagles retired Donovan McNabb's No. 5 jersey at halftime. ... The Chiefs are the fifth team to go 3-0 after losing 14 games or more the previous season. ... Kansas City came into the game tied for the league lead in sacks and now has 15. ... Chiefs LG Jeff Allen injured his groin and CB Brandon Flowers aggravated a knee injury,

--- AP NFL website: HTTP://WWW.PRO32.AP.ORG

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

Rockies outlast Cardinals in 15, 7-6

Thursday, 19 September 2013 23:33 Published in Sports

 

DENVER (AP) -- Shortstop Pete Kozma could see the situation coming, his chance in the 15th inning to give the St. Louis Cardinals a hard-fought victory.

The Colorado Rockies intentionally walked Yadier Molina with one out and runners on first and third to load the bases for Kozma.

Batting against Rob Scahill, Kozma grounded into a double play. Corey Dickerson's RBI triple with one out in the bottom of the inning gave the Rockies a 7-6 victory in a marathon that lasted 5 hours, 9 minutes.

"He's a good sinkerball pitcher," Kozma said of Scahill. "Faced him a couple times in the minors. I was just looking for something to get up and drive. I had something to hit and didn't do anything with it."

What Kozma did was fire his helmet to the ground in disgust. He entered the game hitting just .218 but with a .324 average with runners in scoring position. It is rare for Kozma to show emotion, but this was not just any clutch situation.

"Game on the line," Kozma said. "The game lasts six hours or however long it lasted. Everybody was feeling something, especially at that point."

Charlie Blackmon finished with four hits and Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton homered for the Rockies in tying the second-longest game in Coors Field history.

Matt Holliday had three hits for the Cardinals, who had their NL Central Division lead over Pittsburgh trimmed to one game. The Pirates beat San Diego 10-1 on Thursday.

DJ LeMahieu started the winning rally with a one-out single to right. Dickerson then drilled a line drive into the right-field corner as LeMahieu rounded the bases. The relay from second baseman Matt Carpenter beat LeMahieu but catcher Molina couldn't control the ball as LeMahieu crawled to touch home.

It was Dickerson's second triple of the game and sixth of the season.

In the first inning, Helton tagged out Carpenter at first with the hidden-ball trick. After Roy Oswalt threw to first, Helton feigned a throw back to the mound and tagged Carpenter when he stepped off the bag to end the inning.

The teams traded late-game rallies.

Helton, who struck out with the bases loaded to end Wednesday's game, turned on Edward Mujica's fastball Thursday, drove an 0-1 offering into the Rockies bullpen to lead off the ninth and tie it at 6-all.

It was Mujica's fourth blown save in 41 chances.

Holliday hit his former team hard, going 8 for 21 with a home run, four walks and four RBIs in the series. He reached base in six straight at-bats Thursday and was poised to be the hero with his RBI single in the ninth before Helton tied it with his 14th home run of the season.

It was part of a back-and-forth that saw the Cardinals rally from four runs down but blow two late leads.

Trailing 4-0, the Cardinals got within a run in the fourth. Oswalt walked the first two batters, Carlos Beltran singled to score Jon Jay and Holliday came home on a sacrifice fly.

Tony Cruz doubled off the wall in left to make it 4-3.

Holliday tied it at 4-all with an RBI single in the fifth.

David Freese gave the Cardinals a 5-4 lead in the eighth with an RBI double to center, but Colorado tied it in the bottom of the inning on Dickerson's two-out triple.

Helton helped the Rockies take an early lead with a leadoff double in the second, his 588th career two-bagger. He moved to third on Charlie Culberson's infield single and scored on Yorvit Torrealba's blooper to right.

Culberson scored on a double play to make it 2-0.

Tulowitzki's two-run homer in the third made it 4-0. It was his 23rd of the season.

Cardinals starter Michael Wacha had a curious Coors Field debut. He allowed four runs and 12 hits but no walks with seven strikeouts in 4 2-3 innings.

"Plain and simple, I gave up too many hits," Wacha said. "And I didn't put our team in a good position to win a game. I feel it all starts with the starting pitcher, and I just wasn't able to get guys out there for a while and gave up entirely way too many hits."

NOTES: Cardinals 1B Matt Adams (right elbow soreness) did not start but came into the game as a defensive replacement in the eighth. He singled in the ninth and was replaced by a pinch-runner. ... Rockies OF Michael Cuddyer (left wrist, forearm) was out of the lineup but hopes to play Friday. ... RHP Shelby Miller (14-9) will open the Cardinals' weekend series in Milwaukee on Friday. ... RHP Jhoulys Chacin (13-9) will start the first game of Colorado's series against Arizona on Friday.

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