House delays Obamacare as shutdown nears

House Republicans on Sunday approved a short-term government funding bill that delays Obamacare and permanently repeals a tax on medical devices, setting up their most dramatic face-off ever with President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats.

The vote to delay Obamacare was 231-192, with two Republicans voting against the bill, while two Democrats supported it. The Republicans opposed to the bill were New York Reps. Chris Gibson and Richard Hanna, and the Democrats who supported the measure were North Carolina Rep. Mike McInytre and Utah Rep. Jim Matheson.

The move represents a complete about-face by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the House Republican leadership. They wanted to shift the focus of health care and budgetary squabbles onto the debt ceiling fight, but conservative Republicans honed in on the government funding battle.

Passage of the funding bill on early Sunday, following several hours of acrimonious debate the House, sets the stage for two days of political drama and dramatically increased the chances of a government shutdown come Oct. 1.

Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have already warned that the GOP proposal is unacceptable. Reid may not even bring back the Senate into session until Monday afternoon – just hours before a shutdown would begin – to reject the GOP proposal.

œToday™s vote by House Republicans is pointless,” Reid said in a statement. œAs I have said repeatedly, the Senate will reject any Republican attempt to force changes to the Affordable Care Act through a mandatory government funding bill or the debt ceiling. Furthermore, President Obama has stated that he would veto such measures if they ever reached his desk.”

On Friday, Senate Democrats passed a bill to fund the government until Nov. 15, but kept intact Obamacare. The two chambers are on a collision course, a standoff that could lead to the first government shutdown since 1996.

This is just the first round of an entire fall filled with fiscal fights. In just days, Congress must figure out how to raise the debt ceiling – Congress must increase the national borrowing limit before Oct. 17. A discussion over government funding for the next fiscal year will also sprout up again before the new year.

Many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle believe the ominous turns in the government-funding fight portend an even nastier battle over the debt ceiling, with repercussions that could shake US and global financial markets. Politico

AHT/DB

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