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POLITICS: PennAve

Both parties meet, but not with each other as shutdown looms

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,Obamacare,Senate,House of Representatives,John Boehner,Health Care,PennAve,Budgets and Deficits,Government Shutdown

What does Congress do when the two parties can't agree on a spending bill and just hours remain before the government runs out of money to operate?

They hold meetings, but not with each other.

Both Republicans and Democrats in the House have scheduled afternoon conferences to huddle behind closed doors with their rank-and-file to figure out the best political strategy when the Senate sends back a government funding resolution Monday afternoon.

Midnight is the deadline for Congress to clear a bill that would avert a partial shutdown, but Republicans and Democrats aren't talking to each other in the 12 hours they have left.

Instead, they are jockeying for political advantage out of fear of being blamed for shuttering the government.

Republicans, in particular, have a reason to be worried. New polling by CNN/ORC International shows that many people — 46 percent — would blame the GOP if no deal is reached and the government closes.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, took to the floor Monday morning to try to shift the blame back onto Senate Democrats, who didn't even convene on Sunday to consider a new government funding proposal that the House passed in the wee hours Sunday.

"The Senate decided not to work yesterday," Boehner said. "Well my goodness, if there’s such an emergency, where are they?"

Democrats say they didn't bother to come in because the House bill would have delayed the implementation of Obamacare for a year, a non-starter with them and for President Obama, who has vowed to veto a delay provision.

When the Senate returns Monday afternoon, it is expected to reject the House measure and send it back across the Capitol.

By then, the two parties in the House hope to emerge from their separate closed-door meetings with a game plan on how to move forward.

Republicans may propose a last-minute solution to dodge a shutdown, a provision that would allow most of the Obamacare reforms to go forward but without a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices.

Republicans also could pass a "clean" resolution that keeps the government open for a few days and does nothing to Obamacare so that negotiations can continue.

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