WASHINGTON — Locked in a deepening struggle with President Barack Obama, the Republican-controlled House pushed legislation toward passage Saturday night imposing a one-year delay on parts of the nation's new health care law and repealing a tax on medical devices as the price for avoiding a partial government shutdown in a few days' time.
Senate Democrats pledged to reject the measure even before the House began debating it, and the White House issued a statement vowing a veto in any event. Republicans are pursuing "a narrow ideological agenda ... and pushing the government towards shutdown," it said.
As the day wore on, even some Republicans said privately they feared that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., held the advantage in the fast-approaching end game. If so, a House GOP rank and file that includes numerous tea party allies would soon have to choose between triggering the first partial shutdown in nearly two decades — or coming away from the confrontation empty-handed.
Undeterred, House Republicans pressed ahead with their latest attempt to squeeze a concession from the White House in exchange for letting the government open for business normally on Tuesday. "Obamacare is based on a limitless government, bureaucratic arrogance and a disregard of a will of the people," said Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind.
Another Republican, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, reacted angrily when asked whether he would eventually support a standalone spending bill if needed to prevent a shutdown. "How dare you presume a failure? How dare you? How dare you?" he said.
Apart from its impact on the health care law, the legislation that House Republicans decided to back would assure routine funding for government agencies through Dec. 15. A companion measure headed for approval assures U.S. troops are paid in the event of a shutdown.