GALVESTON — With the U.S. government 11 days into a partial shutdown and a critical deadline on the country’s finances approaching, the congressman representing Galveston County believes that President Obama and Washington Democrats will agree to changes to the health care law passed in 2009.
“Can we get some concessions for ObamaCare — would I like that? Absolutely,” said U.S. Rep. Randy Weber said Friday. “Would I hold out for that? Absolutely.”
Weber said Friday that the stalemate between the Republican-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate would eventually reach a breaking point.
“I don’t think that (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid or the president can sustain their position of absolutely no negotiation,” he said, placing the lack of progress on a compromise on Washington Democrats.
Both parties have accused the other of not negotiating, though recent polls have shown that a majority of Americans see the GOP as the cause of the shutdown.
Weber, a freshman congressman who was elected in 2012 to fill the seat long occupied by Ron Paul, has been among the group of House Republicans pushing for wide-scale changes to the Affordable Care Act — also known as “ObamaCare.”
In August, Weber signed a letter, along with 80 other House Republicans, calling on House Speaker John Boehner and GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor to “defund the implementation and enforcement of ObamaCare in any relevant appropriations bill brought to the House floor in the 113th Congress, including any continuing appropriations bill.”
In September, he voted for a bill that would have funded the government while delaying parts of the health care law by a year. The health care delay was stripped from the bill when it was sent to the Senate, and sent back the House, beginning the shutdown that has resulted in, among other things, the furloughing of hundreds of thousands of government employees.
In the 11 days of the shutdown, House Republicans have passed bills that would fund limited parts of the government, but all but a handful have been rebuffed by the Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, who is calling for a full reopening of the government.
In the meantime, House Republicans, including Weber, have maintained their opposition to the health care law. On the third day of the shutdown, Weber made a speech on the House floor referring to the Alamo and saying that Republicans “would not surrender.”
On Friday, Weber said that his constituents have called on him to “stay the course” on defunding the health care law.
That feeling is not shared by everyone, however. On Thursday, the Bay Area Houston Exonomic Partnership called for Congress to either end of the shutdown or extend limited funding to private sector workers and companies associated with the NASA-Johnson Space Center.
Surrender or not, as days have passed, Washington’s attention has increasingly shifted away from the health care law and to a deadline to increase the nation’s debt ceiling. The government has until Thursday to pass a law increasing the amount of money it can borrow to pay its debts. If an increase is not agreed upon, the U.S. could default on its loans.
On Friday, The Associated Press reported that House Republicans were offering a deal to end the shutdown and increase the debt limit, in return for health care concessions that fall short of a full repeal or delay. The House’s proffer reportedly includes raising the cost of Medicare for better-off seniors, a move that President Barack Obama has said he supported in the past.
Obama reportedly met with Republican leaders Friday to discuss the new developments, but no deals were expected until after the weekend.
Contact reporter John Wayne Ferguson at 409-683-5226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.