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.
If lawmakers miss the approaching deadline, a wide range of federal programs would be affected, from the national parks to the Pentagon.
Some critical services such patrolling the borders, inspecting meat and controlling air traffic would continue. Social Security benefits would be sent and the Medicare and Medicaid health care programs for the elderly and poor would continue to pay doctors and hospitals.
The new health insurance exchanges would open Tuesday, a development that’s lent urgency to the drive to use a normally routine stopgap spending bill to gut implementation of the law.
Associated Press writer Alan Fram and radio reporter Gerry Bodlander contributed to this report.