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As House Republicans debate, no sign government shutdown can be avoided

In a rare Saturday session, House Republicans looked for a way to keep the government operating while forcing a one-year delay in implementing Obamacare.

By Staff writer / September 28, 2013

House Speaker John Boehner leaves a closed-door meeting of the Republican caucus during a rare Saturday session. With conservative Republicans promising not to back down on an emergency spending bill in a push to defund President Obama's healthcare reform law, the government edged closer to its first shutdown since 1996.

Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS

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Washington

In a rare Saturday caucus meeting, House Republicans rejected a Senate stopgap measure that would have averted a government shutdown at midnight Monday.

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Instead, the GOP-controlled House is expected to send back to the Senate, as early as Saturday evening, a funding bill (CR or “continuing resolution”) to keep government open through Dec. 15 and force a one-year delay in the implementation of Obamacare, set to begin on Oct. 1.

In a bid to win Democratic support, the measure also repeals a controversial tax on medical devices and adds a measure to ensure that US military forces continue to be paid, even if the government shuts down.

This means that the US government is very close to a shutdown on Oct. 1, and there appears to be no way out, unless someone blinks. House Speaker John Boehner, under fierce pressure from the right wing of his caucus and outside conservative groups supporting them, did not blink.

“We’re in a very good spot,” said Rep. Tom Graves (R) of Georgia, who along with Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas, began organizing the House GOP caucus last summer to rally around a plan to fund government only if Obamacare were defunded.

“We’re unified. There’s a lot of energy, and excitement, and resolve,” Rep. Graves said after Saturday’s caucus meeting.

“We’re not being obstructionist, the Senate is,” said Rep. Mo Brooks (R) of Alabama. It’s Harry Reid and the Democrats who see a “tactical advantage” in a government shutdown, because they’re convinced that Republicans will be blamed, he added. “I don’t know a single Republican who believes there is a tactical advantage to shutting down government.”

To recap:  Senate majority leader Harry Reid says that the Democrat-controlled Senate will reject any measure that alters the health-care law, period.

The only way to avert a shutdown is for the House to accept the CR that the Senate passed Friday on a party-line vote that simply funds government through Nov. 15, Sen. Reid said. To emphasize the point, the majority leader adjourned the Senate until Monday afternoon.

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