By Steve Sadin, Patch.com
Despite a bipartisan effort Monday afternoon including Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Deerfield) to avoid a shutdown, nonessential government services will no longer be available until the United States Congress decides how to fund the government.
After the House of Representatives and the Senate batted legislation back and forth five times since Saturday, the House voted 228-199 to create a conference committee with the Senate to resolve outstanding issues an hour after the shutdown went into effect.
While the lower chamber was voting, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said the Senate would not meet in conference until the House passed a bill without a reference to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamcare. The Republican controlled House kept attaching provisions paring back Obamacare, and the upper house kept stripping them out.
Earlier Monday, Schneider met with some of the members of the No Labels Problem Solvers Caucus to find a way to avoid a shutdown. The group includes both senators and representatives comprised of 37 Republicans, 43 Democrats and an independent.
“Congress needs to set aside partisanship and break through the gridlock to keep the government operating,” Schneider said. “I've said it over and over, no one party has a monopoly on all the good ideas, and I will continue to try to work through this persistent partisanship to find a solution."
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston), who blamed Republicans for the failure to keep the government running, put the effect of the situation in practical terms.
“Americans all across the country will feel the effects,” Schakowsky said. “National parks will be closed. Medical research grants won’t be made. People trying to sign up for veterans benefits, Medicare and Social Security will face delays. Law enforcement efforts will be hampered.”
Between the votes today, President Barack Obama criticized the House Republican majority for its action. “You don’t get to extract a ransom for doing your job,” he said. “My hope is Congress will do the right thing”
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Highland Park) wants both sides to work together to find a solution. He said compromise is essential but does not want to see a shutdown.
“It is unfortunate that partisan differences have brought us to a shutdown of our government,” Kirk said in a prepared statement. “From day one I maintained that while I do not support Obamacare, a shutdown of the federal government will have a negative impact on our markets and the economy.”
As Schneider was working with some Republicans, he criticized others who he claims are placing partisan concerns above the needs of the country. “I am disappointed that some Republicans in Congress continue to hold fast to a narrow ideology they know will force a government shutdown,” he said.