Zee Media Bureau
Washington: As the US government risks first shutdown in almost 20 years, the House of Representatives has okayed a funding plan by Republicans to keep the government running but also stipulated that President Barack Obama’s healthcare law be delayed by an year and the tax on medical devices be repealed.
But even before the House voted legislation 231-192 and sent it to the Senate early Sunday, Majority Leader Harry Reid said that his Democratic-led chamber would reject any such bill that would alter Obamacare law.
"To be absolutely clear, the Senate will reject both the one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of the medical device tax," Reid said.
"The American people will not be extorted by Tea Party anarchists," said an angry Reid, referring to the ultra-conservative faction of the Republican party.
He derided the House measure as "pointless" brinkmanship that could end in economic crisis.
The White House also said Obama would veto the bill.
The Senate, which is set to snub the bill passed by the Republicans is not scheduled to return until Monday afternoon, 10 hours before the shutdown deadline.
Earlier, the Republicans rejected a bill passed by the Senate that would have funded the government until 15 November - ahead of the 1 October shutdown deadline.
Republicans argue that "Obamacare, which is set to launch on October 1, is a massive and unnecessary government intrusion into medicine that will cause premiums to skyrocket and damage the economy.
They have attached a provision to delay the program to a "must-pass" bill that would continue funding the government when the fiscal year ends at midnight on Monday.
The failure to pass a short-term measure to keep the government running would result in a deadlock that would see the US govt shut down for the first time since 1996.
More than a million federal employees would be furloughed from their jobs, with the impact depending on how long a shutdown lasted.
The current timetable could leave House Speaker John Boehner with the most difficult decision of his career: whether to approve a straight-forward spending bill passed on Friday by the Senate or allow the government shutdown to begin.
A shutdown could be averted, however, if 17 of the 233 House Republicans break from their party and vote with the Democrats.
With Agency Inputs