WASHINGTON - House Republicans on Saturday pushed the government to the edge of a partial shutdown next week, insisting that President Barack Obama's health care law be delayed a year in defiance of White House and the Democratic-controlled Senate.
They rejected a Senate bill passed Friday that would keep the government operating another 45 days and make no changes to the health law. Instead, House Republicans prepared to pass their own version Saturday and throw the issue back to the Senate, which is not scheduled to return until Monday afternoon, 10 hours before the shutdown deadline.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has insisted the Senate would not pass a bill that alters the law. The White House has said Obama would veto such a bill.
In addition to delaying final implementation of the Affordable Care Act for a year, the House bill would repeal a tax on medical devices that helps pay for the law, said Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.
The measure would provide the government with operating funds until Dec. 15; the Senate's version lasted until only Nov. 15.
Dealing with the possibility the Senate would reject the bill, the House also planned to pass a companion measure Sunday directing that U.S. military troops be paid on time despite any partial shutdown.
Obama, in his weekly radio and Internet address, accused House Republicans of being more concerned "with appeasing an extreme faction of their party than working to pass a budget."
Before news of the new plan emerged, lawmakers took to the House floor and mixed name-calling with cries for compromise.
"I've got a titanium backbone. Let 'em blame, let 'em talk, it's fine," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., about Democratic claims that the GOP would be at fault if the government must close.
She said the GOP wanted to keep the government open, but also wanted to reduce its size and "delay, defund, repeal and replace Obamacare," as the health law is known.