That left the next step up to the House — with time to avert a partial shutdown growing ever shorter.
For a moment at least, the revised House proposal papered over a simmering dispute between Speaker John Boehner and the rest of the leadership, and tea party conservatives who have been more militant about abolishing the health law that all Republican lawmakers oppose.
It was unclear whether members of the rank and file had consulted with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has become the face of the "Defund Obamacare" campaign that tea party organizations are promoting and using as a fundraising tool.
In debate on the House floor, Republicans adamantly rejected charges that they seek a government shutdown, and said their goal is to spare the nation from the effects of a law they said would cost jobs and reduce the quality of care. The law is an "attack and an assault on the free enterprise and the free economy," said Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas.
Democrats disagreed vociferously. "House Republicans are shutting down the government. They're doing it intentionally. They're doing it on purpose," said Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland, as Republican lawmakers booed from their seats on the floor.
In the Senate, there was little doubt that Reid had the votes to block a one-year delay in the health care program widely known as "Obamacare." He said the same was true for the repeal of the medical device tax, even though 33 Democrats joined all Senate Republicans in supporting repeal on a nonbinding vote earlier in the year.
The 2.3 percent tax, which took effect in January, is imposed on items such as pacemakers and CT scan machines; eyeglasses, contact lenses, hearing aids and other items are exempt. Repealing it would cost the government an estimated $29 billion over the coming decade.