Federal Government Shutdown Not Necessary, Grassley Says

By Rod Boshart, Reporter

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) looks on during a hearing before the Senate Budget Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC on Wednesday, April 10, 2013. (Stephen Mally/Freelance)

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By Richard Pratt

DES MOINES -- Sen. Chuck Grassley on Friday debunked the idea of an impending federal government shutdown on a day when Congress and President Obama inched closer to that reality at month’s end.

The Republican-controlled U.S. House voted 230-189 to cripple Obama's health care law, set to take effect Oct. 1. But, the Democratic-led U.S. Senate plans to strip the GOP health care provision from the bill next week, setting up a confrontation that could threaten a government shutdown if a solution can’t be reached yet this month.

During a taping of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” show, Grassley, 80, a New Hartford Republican, said “I think there is too much talk of Armagaden” in Washington, D.C. when the likely outcome will be a resolution that keeps government operating and "Obamacare" on the books.

A shutdown “doesn’t have to happen; it’s not going to happen this time,” Grassley told Iowa Press questioners.

“You do not have to shut down government,” Iowa’s senior senator said. “It was shut down in 1995. Nothing was accomplished and that’s a precedent enough that I don’t think it’s going to happen again.”

Grassley said there are a lot of problems with the health-care act slated to take effect Oct. 1, and he would vote to defund it. But, he added, “you’ve got to have the votes to get it done” and Republicans are in the majority in the Senate so it’s unlikely Republicans will succeed in scrapping it. He said an alternative might be to slow down implementation for individuals like business requirements have been deferred.

If gridlock persists, the Iowa senator said 84 percent of the federal government could be funded with current tax collections and the other 16 percent of government operations would have to be prioritized.

On the other hand, if the so-called "Obamacare" law proceeds and Congress relents in the latest confrontation, Grassley said Republicans and fiscal conservatives can declare victory because they fought the health care issue “right up to the cliff” and because a continuing resolution would maintain funding levels at status quo for two years and counting.

During Friday’s discussion, Grassley said the situation calls for a presidential interaction with Congress, but that’s not happening with Obama on both sides of the political aisle.

“He seems to have the least interaction with members of Congress of any president I’ve served under,” Grassley said, indicating at one point that Obama would be more likely to negotiate with foreign dictators than members of Congress, especially Republicans.

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