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Continued: Collapse for shutdown effort, then new optimism: Chances seen good for approval on Wednesday

  • Article by: DAVID ESPO , Associated Press
  • Last update: October 15, 2013 - 10:10 PM

That verdict came after Republicans jettisoned a pair of provisions that had drawn objections from the White House and Democrats. One would have delayed a medical device tax created under the new health care law known as Obamacare. The other would have imposed tougher income verification standards on individuals and families seeking subsidies for care under the law.

Democrats had viewed both as concessions to Republicans, and deemed their inclusion as a violation of Obama's vow not to pay a "ransom" to the GOP for passing essential funding and borrowing measures.

The day's events prompted an outbreak of partisan rhetoric, mixed with urgent warnings that both the U.S. and global economies could suffer severe damage quickly unless Congress acted by Thursday.

Even something of an appeal for heavenly aid was thrown in, as Rep. Steve Southerland of Florida led House Republicans in a rendition of "Amazing Grace" at the beginning of a rank-and-file meeting called to discuss a way out of the impasse.

Speaking with reporters, Boehner said, "I have made clear for months and months that the idea of default is wrong and we shouldn't get anywhere close to it."

Democrats jumped on Boehner and the plan he produced.

In unusually personal remarks, Reid said the Ohio Republican had "once again tried to preserve his role at the expense of the country."

That was a reference to a rebellious rank and file in the House, who routinely seek to push Boehner and the rest of the leadership to the right. A group met Monday night with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who last summer played a public role in a campaign to demand defunding of Obamacare as the price for preventing a partial government shutdown.

The Democratic attacks were too much for some Republicans who have been among those most vocal in calling for a bipartisan solution to the impasse.

"It's piling on and it's not right," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said of the response from the Democrats. "To categorically reject what the House and the speaker are doing — and I think he's pretty courageous in what he's doing — in my view is not serving the American people."

The House had been effectively sidelined in recent days as Reid and McConnell engaged in intense negotiations to reopen the government and raise the debt limit.

The twin crises began more than three weeks ago, when some lawmakers in the House insisted on seeking the defunding of Obamacare as the price for preventing a partial shutdown of the government.

The White House refused, and the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected legislation to achieve the GOP goal, as well as subsequent legislation that contained scaled-back concessions on the health care overhaul.

The partial shutdown, which began on Oct. 1, swiftly merged with the approaching debt crisis.

Whatever the outcome, the all-out assault on Obamacare that became a tea party rallying cry last summer was long gone, repulsed by the president and his Democratic allies in Congress.

Instead, Republican disapproval ratings have plummeted in public opinion polls in the past two weeks, vindicating warnings from Boehner, McConnell and other party elders that the original strategy of threatening to shut down the government in hopes of wiping out the overhaul was badly flawed.

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