By Becky Hogan
The Congressional ping-pong match over funding the government doesn’t seem to be nearing a resolution. And the first government shutdown since 1996 will occur if lawmakers can’t strike a deal.
Obamacare has become Republicans’ key bargaining chip in the government funding bill wars. If the government shuts down, national parks will close, passport processing services will cease, thousands of federal workers will be furloughed–and most likely Republicans will be blamed.
Polling shows that the public doesn’t like the idea of a shutdown and neither does Wall Street as the threat of a government shutdown sent stocks lower today.
Which key players are being talked about most on Facebook as the government shutdown looms?
On Facebook, no one has been more talked about today than Senator Ted Cruz who has been leading the ‘Defund Obamacare’ movement. Cruz is central to the debate because he’s not only angered Democrats and Republican moderates, he’s also revved up his base which is sending a lot of Facebook buzz his way.
Top Democrats who have been vocal about averting a government shutdown fall haven’t received nearly the buzz on Facebook that Republicans have. Part of the reason for the discrepancy in Facebook chatter could be due to the fact that the GOP is divided on the issue and thus less predictable since the conservative faction in the party seems to be taking over.
The question now is how far House Speaker John Boehner will go to cater to Tea Party members. He has been working with Congressional Republicans for months to avoid a government shutdown, but in the face of Tea Party opposition has brought versions of the bill to the House floor that would defund or delay Obamacare.
Congressman Peter King said Monday that he plans to go against party leadership and vote against a government funding bill that includes delays Obamacare. He claims there may be other Republicans willing to do the same. Interestingly he’s seen the least buzz on Facebook of any Republican, indicating that Facebook users may care less about averting a shutdown and more about defunding the health care law.
Senate Democrats have vowed from the beginning that any changes to Obamacare would be a deal-killer. The House passed two spending bill amendments Sunday—one that would delay Obamacare for one year, and another that would repeal the law’s medical device tax. The Senate again rejected the House proposal along party lines.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has showed no interest in negotiating with Republicans over the stalemate. On Saturday, he said he would refuse to give in to “Tea Party anarchists.”
Now focus is shifted back to the GOP-led House, and some political insiders have said GOP leaders may raise the stakes by also forcing a vote on a provision to eliminate government health care subsidies for members of Congress and their staff or by going after the law’s individual mandate provision.
Since the House CR was first rejected in the Senate last week, media coverage shows that Republicans have been garnering more attention than Democrats over the shutdown as well. Similar to Facebook data, Cruz has received the most media attention recently since his marathon speech on the Senate floor last week. In contract to social media, news outlets have been more inclined to cover party leadership since this issue has become so deeply partisan.
Despite repeated rejection by the Democratic-led Senate and a veto threat by Obama, House Republicans seemed determined not to back down. As the clock ticks closer to the midnight deadline, we’ll be watching to see how social media and news coverage react to developments on the Hill.