Government shutdown 2013: Senate meets Monday to consider House bill
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Democratic-led Senate has rejected conditions that House Republicans attached to a temporary spending bill.
On the brink of a government shutdown, the Senate voted 54-46 on Monday to strip a one-year delay in President Barack Obama's health care law from the bill that would keep the government operating.
The Senate also stripped a provision that would have eliminated the tax on medical devices. House Republicans had added the provisions early Sunday morning in their campaign to undo Obama's signature domestic program.
The vote came less than 10 hours before a possible shutdown and with no compromise in sight. Democrats - and a few Republicans - are pressing for the House to approve a straightforward spending bill with no conditions.
As lawmakers squabbled, President Barack Obama urged them instead to "act responsibly and do what's right for the American people."
At the White House, he said he was willing to discuss long-term budget issues with members of Congress, and expected to do soon.
But, he added, "The only way to do that is for everybody to sit down in good faith without threatening to harm women and veterans and children with a government shutdown."
A shutdown would cause an uneven impact across the face of government, inconveniencing millions. Many low-to-moderate-income borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays.
Passport applications would be delayed. About 800,000 federal workers, many already reeling from the effect of automatic budget cuts, would be forced off the job without pay.
But some critical services such as 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 hospitals.
Anticipating the vote, House Republican leaders met in Speaker John Boehner's office to plan their next move. Officials said that even though time was running short, they expected at least one more attempt to squeeze a concession from the White House.
For the first time since the showdown began more than a week ago, there was public dissent from the Republican strategy that has been carried out at the insistence of tea party-aligned lawmakers working in tandem with GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
Rep. Charles Dent, R-Pa., said he was willing to vote for stand-alone legislation that would keep the government running and contained no health care-related provisions.
"I would be supportive of it, and I believe the votes are there in the House to pass it at that point," he said. Dent added he has been urging the Republican leadership to allow a vote along those lines.
A second Republican, Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado, said, "We haven't given up on Obamacare ... but for this week we may have to give up. We tried everything and Harry Reid won't budge," he said of the Senate majority leader.
In response, a spokesman for Boehner said the leadership would discuss options with the rank and file at a closed-door meeting later in the day.