WASHINGTON — Locked in a deepening struggle with President Barack Obama, the Republican-controlled House pushed legislation toward passage Saturday night requiring a one-year delay in parts of the nation’s new health care law and repeal of 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” that threatens the nation’s economy, it said.
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.
“I think we have a winning program here,” said Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, after days of discord that pitted Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and his leadership against tea party-backed conservatives.
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.
The government spending measure marked something of a reduction in demands by House Republicans, who passed legislation several days ago that would permanently strip the health care law of money while providing funding for the government.
It also contained significant concessions from a party that long has criticized the health care law for imposing numerous government mandates on industry, in some cases far exceeding what Republicans have been willing to support in the past.