By Dan Carden
U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., urged his colleagues Wednesday to stop fighting about Obamacare and instead cooperate to get people back to work.
Speaking on the Senate floor about five hours after U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, completed his marathon harangue against the Affordable Care Act, the first-year Hoosier senator said lawmakers are hurting Americans by failing to grow the still sluggish economy.
"We need to focus on creating jobs, not creating the uncertainty that will cause damage to our economy," Donnelly said. "Fights to the brink over keeping the government up and running and paying the bills that we owe will and would have a devastating effect."
The federal government is on track to shut down Tuesday unless the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate agree on a spending plan.
Separately, the United States will default on its national debt for the first time in history if Congress does not increase the statutory debt limit by mid-October.
Cruz is insisting the Senate approve a House proposal that funds the government but provides no money to implement a portion of Obamacare. The president has said he will veto that plan, but probably won't have to because it has little chance of making it to his desk.
The Senate is expected on Saturday or Sunday to change the House proposal to maintain funding for Obamacare. If the House rejects that change, the government will have no spending authority and be forced to shut down.
U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., believes there's no need for a government shutdown. He said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., should just leave intact the House spending plan.
"I will support the House plan that defunds Obamacare while keeping the rest of the government running, and I will oppose any effort by Harry Reid to strike the defunding language," Coats said.
"This week's vote will require Democrats to choose to stand with the American people or stand by the deeply flawed Obamacare."
Even if the government shuts down over the spending kerfuffle, it is not expected to prevent the insurance marketplaces established by Obamacare from beginning to operate Tuesday.