House GOP has U. S. near partial shutdown
WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Saturday pushed the government to the brink of a partial shutdown in two days, demanding a one- year delay in implementing major parts of U. S. President Barack Obama’s health- care law in defiance of the White House and Democratic- controlled Senate.
The White House quickly issued a veto threat and Senate Democrats vowed to reject the measure even before the House of Representatives began debating the Republican plan.
“Any member of the Republican party who votes for this bill is voting for a shutdown,” presidential press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.
Undeterred, House Republicans pressed ahead with their latest attempt to squeeze a concession from the White House in exchange for providing the funds the government needs to open for business normally on Tuesday. The House Republican plan also would repeal a tax on medical devices that helps pay for the healthcare law.
Dealing with the possibility the Senate would reject the bill, the House of Representatives also planned to pass a companion measure directing that U. S. military troops be paid on time despite any partial shutdown.
“I think we have a winning program here,” said Republican Rep. Hal Rogers, chairman of the House appropriations committee, after days of discord that pitted Speaker John Boehner and his leadership against the party’s ultraconservative Tea Party wing.
Failure to pass a short- term measure to keep the government running would mean the first partial closing in almost 20 years. A single, agreed- upon version must be approved by both houses of Congress and signed by Obama by Tuesday.
Such paralyzing fiscal fights have dominated Washington in recent years, underscoring the deep divide between the Republicans and the Obama administration and its Democratic allies. The two sides have managed in the past to come up with last- minute compromises to avoid a government shutdown.
Apart from its impact on the healthcare law, the legislation House Republicans decided to back would assure routine funding for government agencies through Dec. 15.
The measure marked something of a reduction in demands by House Republicans, who passed legislation several days ago that would permanently strip the health- care law of money while providing funding for the government.
It also contained significant concessions from a party that long has criticized the health- care law for imposing numerous government mandates on industry, in some cases far exceeding what Republicans were willing to support in the past.
— The Associated Press