House GOP defies Obama on funding bill; gov't shutdown nears
By Thomas Ferraro and Richard Cowan ,ReutersWASHINGTON -- The U.S. House of Representatives early on Sunday brought the federal government closer to a shutdown as it voted to delay U.S. President Barack Obama's landmark health care law for a year as part of an emergency spending bill.
September 30, 2013, 12:05 am TWN
By a mostly partisan vote of 231-192, the Republican-controlled House approved the “Obamacare” amendment, despite a veto threat from the White House.
It also voted 248-174 to repeal a medical device tax that aims to help fund health care programs under the 2010 law.
And in a sign that lawmakers might be resigned to a government shutdown beginning Tuesday, the House unanimously approved a bill to keep paying U.S. soldiers in the event the government runs out of money to run many programs.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reiterated on Saturday that the House bill would be dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate, which is not scheduled to meet until 2 p.m. on Monday (1800 GMT).
Obama also threatened to veto any bill that delays his health care restructuring.
There is a slight chance the two sides could reach a funding deal before the government's fiscal year ends at midnight on Monday. Congress could also act at any time to end the impasse if a shutdown did occur.
But the bitterness of the House debate on Saturday night that spilled into early Sunday did not bode well for prospects of a compromise.
“You have been hijacked by a group called the Tea Party,” Democratic Representative David Scott of Georgia said angrily, referring to the powerful conservative, anti-government movement that holds significant sway over Republicans.
“The American people deserve to have time to see what this monstrosity will do before it is implemented,” shouted Republican Representative John Culberson of Texas, referring to “Obamacare.”
The high-stakes maneuvering between Democrats and Republicans is likely to continue through much of Monday.
The standoff is also a harbinger for the next big political battle in Washington: a far more consequential bill to raise the federal government's borrowing authority. Failure to raise the debt ceiling by mid-October could result in the government defaulting on its obligations.