You wouldn't know it by listening to right-wing media, but Obamacare is off to a great start. On the first day of open enrollment, millions of Americans around our nation visited online marketplaces, and tens of thousands of people created accounts. The overwhelming demand for information did leave several sites running slowly, but overall, the first day of the Affordable Care Act was a huge success.
For the first time in 17 years, our government is officially shut down. Just hours before the midnight deadline, the House Republicans passed a third government funding proposal, which included another absurd attempt to undermine Obamacare. As expected, the Senate rejected that version, and called on the House to pass a clean continuing resolution.
Over the weekend, House Republicans approved a so-called compromise to avoid a government shutdown. However, their idea of negotiation was nothing more than ridiculous, right-wing demands they included in the continuing resolution. Rather than voting on the complete defunding of Obamacare, republicans voted to delay the healthcare law for an entire year.
On Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iran's Foreign Minister, for the first substantive talks in a generation. Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have been strong since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and no secretary of state has met with an Iranian counterpart since 2007. And, for almost three decades, relations have been strained further by economic sanctions imposed on Iran over their nuclear program.
Congress hasn't yet prevented one potential government shutdown, and the next one is right around the corner. On Wednesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned that our nation will hit the debt ceiling on October 17th. At that point, the Treasury Department will have only $30 billion dollars in cash on hand.
On Tuesday, Senator Ted Cruz took the floor of the Senate to launch an all-night fake filibuster. His 21-hour marathon speech was arranged in advance, and there was no way it would stop the Senate from voting on a continuing resolution to fund the government. Senator Cruz stayed on the floor all night, without so much as a bathroom break, just to keep himself in the public eye, and to fund-raise for the Republican Party.
On Tuesday, President Obama addressed the United Nations about Syria and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. The President challenged the UN and member nations to stand together against the chemical weapon use in Syria, and approve the controversial agreement under which President Assad would hand control of the deadly weapons to the international community.
Pope Francis did it again. On Sunday, during a meeting with a group of unemployed workers, the Pope abandoned his prepared comments and railed against economic inequality. Pope Francis has previously spoken out against harsh austerity policies that are harming millions around the world, but at this speech on the island of Sardinia, the Pope condemned the “god of money” and today's “economic culture.”
Less than 24 hours after voting to slash food stamp funding, House Republicans moved on to a full government shut down. On Friday, the US House of Representatives passed their version of a short-term spending resolution, which includes a measure to defund Obamacare. Before the vote, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell called on Republicans to “wake up from their radical, ideological dream” and oppose the legislation.
The United States House of Representatives is in the midst of a food stamp showdown. House Republicans want to slash the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by nearly $40 billion dollars, and House Democrats are fighting it with all their might. The drastic cuts are almost ten times the amount approved by the U.S. Senate in June as part of the farm bill.