by Matthew Rusling
WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- The United States is edging closer to a government shutdown as U.S. Congress remains too divided to cut a deal just days before the deadline.
The legislature, analysts say, is stuck in a game of political brinkmanship, with both Democrats and Republicans bent on dragging out the issue in a bid to gain concessions from the other side.
At issue is President Barack Obama's signature health care overhaul. Some House Republicans want to tie the funding of the government to the defunding of the so-called Obamacare.
However, analysts say that a shutdown would hurt efforts of the Republican Party to revamp its image after what the party viewed as a surprising loss to Obama in last November's elections.
House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that the Republican-dominated House was unlikely to accept a clean spending bill from the Senate. The stance is set to increase the chances of a government shutdown since Oct. 1.
The Senate is to vote this week to strip out the Obamacare-defunding provision in the stopgap spending bill passed last Friday by the House.
Still, some experts say the U.S. government is unlikely to put up the shutters next week, despite the current impasse.
"We don't think we're going to have a government shutdown," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua. "With the 2014 election on the horizon and a chance (for Republicans) to grow their numbers, shutting down the government would not be the smartest move."
Indeed, recent polls have found that Americans would blame Republicans if the government closes next week.
A Pew poll released earlier this week found that 39 percent of Americans would blame Republicans if the government shuts down, 36 percent would blame the Obama administration, and 17 percent would blame both.
There are already signs that the government's wheels will continue spinning. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that he would not support Republicans who aim to dismantle Obama's health care legislation.
McConnell's attitude is seen as a major setback for Senator Ted Cruz, who is spearheading the move to shut down the government.
Republicans also do not want a repeat of the government shutdown of 1996, for which the Republicans took the blame.
This is not the first time that such a crisis has loomed. In 2011, Congress and the White House avoided a government shutdown in a last-minute deal between Obama and Republicans.
Last year, another deal was struck to avoid a government shutdown just a week before the presidential elections, after much bickering between the two parties.
In the United States, a partial government shutdown would keep hundreds of thousands of federal workers off the job, close national parks and generate damaging headlines for whichever side the public held responsible.
Still, that does not mean the Republicans' fight to axe Obamacare is over, said O'Connell, the Republican strategist.
"You can't govern when you're a legislative minority, and I think (Republicans) see the writing on the wall and (they believe) the best way to repeal or replace Obamacare is to take control of the Senate and win the presidency in 2016," he said.
Opponents of the health care law dubbed it a job-killer that will cause insurance premiums to skyrocket. Proponents insist that it will make health insurance available to millions of previously uninsured Americans.
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