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Democrats, Republicans In Shutdown Showdown

9/30/2013, 6:12 p.m.

The latest House measure, passed early Sunday by a near party-line vote of 231-192, sent back to the Senate two key changes: a one year delay of key provisions of the health insurance law and repeal of a new tax on medical devices that partially funds it, steps that still go too far for The White House and its Democratic allies on Capitol Hill.

Senate rules often make it difficult to act quickly, but the chamber can act on the House's latest proposals by simply calling them up and killing them on a non-debatable motion.

Eyes were already turning to the House Sunday for its next move. One of its top leaders vowed it would not simply give in to Democrats' demands to pass the Senate's "clean" funding bill.

"The House will get back together in enough time, send another provision not to shut the government down, but to fund it, and it will have a few other options in there for the Senate to look at again,'" said the No. 3 House Republican leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California. "We are not shutting the government down."

On the other hand, Democrats said Republicans' bravado may fade as the deadline to avert a shutdown nears.

Asked whether he could vote for a "clean" temporary funding bill, Republican Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho said he couldn't. But Labrador added, "I think there's enough people in the Republican Party who are willing to do that. And I think that's what you're going to see."

McCarthy wouldn't say what changes Republicans might make. He appeared to suggest that a very short-term measure might pass at the last minute, but Republican aides said that was unlikely.

Republicans argued that Reid should have convened the Senate on Sunday to act on the measure.

"If the Senate stalls until Monday afternoon instead of working today, it would be an act of breathtaking arrogance by the Senate Democratic leadership," said House Speaker John Boehner. "They will be deliberately bringing the nation to the brink of a government shutdown."

But even some Republicans said privately they feared that Democratic Senate leader Reid holds the advantage in the fast-approaching end game.

Republicans argued that they had already made compromises; for instance, their latest measure would leave intact most parts of the health care law that have taken effect, including requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions and to let families' plans cover children up to age 26. They also would allow insurers to deny contraception coverage based on religious or moral objections.

Democrats countered that Republicans were seizing a routine funding measure and holding it hostage, seeking leverage to unfairly jam Democrats into making concessions. Democrats were confident they could hold firm, and some more senior Republicans acknowledged that the situation is rife with political risk for their party.

But tea party forces in the House, egged on by Cruz, forced Republican leaders to abandon an earlier plan to deliver a "clean" stopgap spending bill to the Senate and move the fight to another must-do measure looming in mid-October: a bill to increase the government's borrowing cap to avert a market-rattling, first-ever default on U.S. debt obligations.

McCarthy appeared on "Fox News Sunday," while Cruz was on NBC's "Meet the Press." Van Hollen appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation."


Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor, Alan Fram and David Espo contributed to this report.

Budget Battle

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., together with the Democratic leadership, gestures while speaking during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, to discuss the budget showdown. From left are, House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn of S.C., Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., Pelosi, Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Md. Republicans and Democrats blamed each other Monday as they took the federal government to the brink of a shutdown in an intractable budget dispute over President Barack Obama's signature health care law. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)