Obama: Health law can’t be stopped by govt. shutdown

President Obama said Friday that major parts of Obamacare will go into effect next week no matter what happens with the debate in Congress over stopgap spending, saying that should undercut Republicans’ fight.

Mr. Obama, speaking at the White House, said the health exchanges will begin running on Tuesday, making health plans available to 40 million Americans, and said there is nothing in the current spending fight that can stop that.


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“That’s a done deal,” he said.

Mr. Obama began his brief remarks by saying he’d just opened up historic negotiations with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani over that nation’s nuclear program, but said he would not enter into negotiations with congressional Republicans over either the spending bills or the looming debt fight.

“We are not going to do it,” Mr. Obama said. “We’ve got to break this cycle. My message to Congress is this: do not shut down the government. Do not shut down the economy. Pass a budget on time. Pay our bills on time.”

Government funding for most basic operations expires at midnight Monday, and unless Congress and Mr. Obama agree to an extension, some operations such as national parks or federal museums will shutter.

Hours before Mr. Obama spoke, the Senate passed a bill that funds the government through Nov. 15 and continues full funding for the Affordable Care Act. That bill now goes back to the House, where Republicans have insisted that the health law be canceled or delayed as part of the spending fight or, barring that, as part of the looming debt debate.

Mr. Obama told House Republicans that a government shutdown will leave some of their own staffers out of work temporarily, will hurt federal employees in their districts back home, and will damage an economy still struggling to recover five years after the Wall Street collapse and four and a half years into his tenure in the White House.

Mr. Obama said he is “willing to work with anybody who wants to have a serious conversation about our fiscal future” but said he won’t do it while in the middle of basic spending or debt debates.

Many Americans believe that a government shutdown would, in fact, cancel Obamacare. But Mr. Obama disputed that, and a Congressional Research Service report this summer backs him up.

According to CRS, Mr. Obama retains wide latitude on what to continue even in the midst of a government shutdown.

CRS specifically said the health exchanges, the individual mandate that Americans obtain health coverage, the cuts to Medicare, and the IRS’s ability to collect Obamacare taxes would all continue.

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