WASHINGTON (AP) - House Republicans on Saturday pushed the government
to the edge of a partial shutdown next week, insisting that President
Barack Obama's health care law be delayed a year in defiance of White
House and the Democratic-controlled Senate.
They rejected a Senate bill passed Friday that
would keep the government operating another 45 days and make no changes
to the health law. Instead, House Republicans prepared to pass their own
version Saturday and throw the issue back to the Senate, which is not
scheduled to return until Monday afternoon, 10 hours before the shutdown
Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California told the AP that the new bill
also would repeal a new tax on medical devices in the Affordable Care
Act. Republicans also will try to pass a bill that would get paychecks
to members of the military on time if a shutdown occurs.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has
insisted the Senate would not pass a bill that alters the law. The White
House has said Obama would veto such a bill.
In addition to delaying final implementation of the
Affordable Care Act for a year, the House bill would repeal a tax on
medical devices that helps pay for the law, said Rep. Devin Nunes,
The measure would provide the government with operating funds until Dec. 15; the Senate's version lasted until only Nov. 15.
Dealing with the possibility the Senate would
reject the bill, the House also planned to pass a companion measure
Sunday directing that U.S. military troops be paid on time despite any
Obama, in his weekly radio and Internet address,
accused House Republicans of being more concerned "with appeasing an
extreme faction of their party than working to pass a budget."
Before news of the new plan emerged, lawmakers took to the House floor and mixed name-calling with cries for compromise.
"I've got a titanium backbone. Let 'em blame, let
'em talk, it's fine," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., about
Democratic claims that the GOP would be at fault if the government must
She said the GOP wanted to keep the government
open, but also wanted to reduce its size and "delay, defund, repeal and
replace Obamacare," as the health law is known.
The Senate's 54-44 vote Friday was strictly along
party lines in favor of the bill, which would prevent a shutdown of
nonessential government services.
That followed a 79-19 vote to cut off a filibuster
by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that exposed a rift among Republicans eager
to prevent a shutdown and those, like Cruz, who seem willing to risk one
over the health overhaul.
All 52 Democrats, two independents and 25 of 44
Republicans voted in favor. That included Minority Leader Mitch
McConnell, R-Ky., and most of the GOP leadership.
Cruz was trying to rally House conservatives to
continue the battle over heath care. He was urging them to reject
efforts by Boehner and other GOP leaders to offer scaled-back assaults
on the law such as repealing the tax on medical devices as the House
Some conservatives were taking their cues from Cruz
rather than party leaders such as Boehner hoping to avoid a shutdown.
Closing down the government could weaken Republicans heading into an
even more important battle later in October over allowing the government
to borrow more money.
If lawmakers miss the deadline, hundreds of thousands of nonessential federal workers would have to stay home on Tuesday.
Critical services such patrolling the borders,
inspecting meat and controlling air traffic would continue. Social
Security benefits would be sent and the Medicare and Medicaid health
care programs for the elderly and poor would continue to pay doctors and
The new health insurance exchanges would open
Tuesday, a development that's lent urgency to the drive to use a
normally routine stopgap spending bill to gut implementation of the law.
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