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Defiant House delays Obamacare; government shutdown looms

By Tom Cohen, Holly Yan, and Martina Stewart | 9/29/2013, 1:16 p.m.
Less than 48 hours before a shutdown of the federal government would begin, House Republican leaders remained defiant in their ...
The White House says Obama would veto the amended House plan.

"They're the ones playing games," she continued. "They need to act. They're the ones that are truly threatening a government shutdown by not being here and acting."

Going after the tax

The decision to vote on the House amendments overnight emerged from a rare weekend GOP caucus meeting called by House Speaker John Boehner. The votes, taken after midnight, were 231-192 for the Obamacare delay, and 248-174 for the medical device tax repeal, mostly along party lines.

Two Democrats broke rank and voted for the Obamacare delay: Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Jim Matheson of Utah.

Seventeen Democrats voted for the tax repeal.

Meanwhile, a bill to guarantee pay for military personnel during any shutdown passed 423-0.

House Republicans had said they wanted to stop as much of the president's health law as possible. The medical device tax is one of the more controversial taxes in the law, with Republicans saying it sends jobs overseas.

Democrats, particularly those from states or districts with medical device manufacturers, have spoken out against the tax.

"Republicans have pointed out over and over (Saturday) that many Democrats in the Senate are already on record voting for this repeal," said Dana Bash, CNN's chief congressional correspondent. "So that's why they're trying to put Democrats there in a box."

"But we're already being told by Democratic sources in the Senate that they feel they're going to keep all of their senators in line," she said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the Republican strategy "pointless" and said the Democratic-led Senate would reject the GOP alternatives. The White House said Obama would veto the House proposal if it reached his desk.

A separate White House statement said voting for the GOP measure "is voting for a shutdown."

Partisan back and forth

The back and forth over the spending plan -- called a continuing resolution in legislative jargon -- began when House Republicans stripped all funding for Obamacare from their original version and sent it to the Senate.

The Senate, where Democrats hold a slim majority, restored the funding on Friday and kicked the plan back to the House.

On Saturday, Boehner convened his caucus to forge a counteroffer to the Senate changes.

House Republicans added an amendment that would fund the government until December, a month longer than the Senate version. They also added a "conscience clause" to the one-year delay amendment to allow employers and insurance plans to refuse to cover birth control.

Keeping military pay

In a sign that the House Republicans don't expect the Senate to accept their changes, House leaders held a separate vote to ensure that the military gets paid in the event of a government shutdown.

Officials estimate the military pay could be affected by a shutdown as soon as October 14, and the GOP move was considered a political gesture to shield the party from criticism that its brinksmanship could hurt U.S. fighting forces.

But on the spending plan, Reid said the Republican tactics amounted to what he described as extortion by "tea party anarchists."