This week's government shutdown could be just a warmup for an even bigger budget battle in a couple of weeks.
Congress has to raise the limit on the amount of money the federal government is allowed to borrow by Oct. 17. If the debt ceiling is not raised on time, President Obama warns that Washington won't be able to keep paying its bills.
"It'd be far more dangerous than a government shutdown, as bad as a shutdown is," Obama said Tuesday. "It would be an economic shutdown."
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDEREDfrom NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
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And I'm Audie Cornish. The federal government has been at least partially shut down for 20 hours now. There are barricades in front of national monuments and hundreds of thousands of employees are facing furlough and uncertainty about when or if they will be paid. And on Capitol Hill, there seems to be no clear end to the shutdown. NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith joins us now from the Capitol.
Among the things House Republicans are asking for in the ongoing spending battle is an elimination of health benefits for members of Congress and their staff. As the law now stands, congressional staff are required to buy their health insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchanges and the federal government will help pay for their plans.
House Republicans say that kind of assistance amounts to a special subsidy. But as NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, taking away the health benefit would amount to a large pay cut.
Of the hundreds of thousands of federal workers not working because of the shutdown, many are, of course, here in Washington, D.C. The region is home to dozens of federal agencies, from Homeland Security to the Environmental Protection Agency. NPR's Allison Keyes spoke with some of those affected.