WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has passed a temporary funding measure to keep the government running. The bill is coupled with a tea party-backed measure to block President Obama’s new health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The 230 -189 vote sets the stage for a confrontation with the Democratic-led Senate. The Senate promises to strip the “defund Obamacare” provision from the bill next week and will challenge the House to pass it as a straightforward funding bill that Obama will sign.
The White House promises Obama would veto the measure in the unlikely event it reaches him.
At issue is the need to pass a short-term funding bill to prevent a partial government shutdown when the budget year ends on Sept. 30. Washington’s longstanding budget stalemate has derailed the annual appropriations bills required to fund federal agency operations.
The GOP-controlled House moved Friday toward a confrontation with the Senate over President Barack Obama’s health care law with a legislative ploy that threatens a government shutdown in a week and a half.
The coming fight
The fight is coming on a stopgap funding measure required to keep the government fully running after the Oct. 1 start of the new budget year. Typically, such measures advance with sweeping bipartisan support, but tea party activists forced GOP leaders to add a provision to cripple the health care law that’s the signature accomplishment of Obama’s first term.
The top Senate Democrat has pronounced the bill dead and calls the House exercise a “waste of time.” The White House has issued a veto threat.
The fight over the must-do funding bill comes as Washington is bracing for an even bigger battle over increasing the government’s borrowing cap to make sure the government can pay its bills. Democrats say they won’t be held hostage and allow Republicans to use the must-pass measures as leverage to win legislative victories that they otherwise couldn’t.
“Republicans want to play games of brinksmanship on the budget and the debt limit even though the foreseeable consequence will be plummeting stock markets and businesses freezing their hiring,” said Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee.
“If this legislation is not enacted and we embark on a government shutdown, the consequences are severe: our brave men and women of our military don’t get paid, our recovering economy will take a huge hit, and our most vulnerable citizens — including the elderly and veterans who rely on critical government programs and services — could be left high and dry,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky.
In the event of a shutdown, federal workers’ pay would be delayed, non-essential workers would be sent home and national parks would mostly close. But Social Security benefits, Medicare and most elements of the new health care law would continue.